Thursday, 23 October 2014

How to be a success.

Is this all success is?
Success is elusive. It can be really difficult to achieve, particularly if by ‘success’ we mean writing a best-seller, earning a fortune, or having loads of people queuing for our autograph.

I confess I felt a pang of envy when I saw a line of people snaking through a shopping centre recently, all waiting for a book-signing at a nearby store.

I haven't yet considered my novel to be a success because I haven’t found an agent or publisher or sold many copies. And, by that yardstick, I may never be ‘successful’, which might be a bit depressing.

But success can take many forms. I can consider it a success I even finished the bleedin’ book at all, seen as I was working on it for four years among all sorts of other life events. And it’s a success it’s available for the world to buy, even if it is only on Kindle at the moment.

I think the modern world throws us so many ideas of what success looks like, and they’re not all helpful. Particularly in a world skewed towards helping those who have already reached that financial/popularity kind of ‘success’. (Publishers only accepting submissions from known contacts/bookstores only stocking books from established authors/marketing difficult to come by unless you've produced a best-seller already…)

It’s tempting to judge ourselves by that standard. It is, after all, quite tangible, and can bring a desirable level of comfort. (I have another blog-post in the pipeline about comfort and happiness, so let this sentence serve as my little ‘teaser-trailer’!) But we can be different; we can judge ourselves a success by meeting our goals, by completing our part of the bargain, by doing the best we can.

It might not bring the recognition of ‘the world’ but, ultimately, when the day is done, the lights go out and you’re lying alone with your thoughts, the only person you really have to answer to is … you. And if you’ve managed to be ‘successful’ in the work you had before you that day, then you can probably sleep a whole lot easier.

Because that’s all we can do: our work. It’s not up to me whether an agent picks up my book, it’s not up to me whether people buy it (did I mention it’s available on Kindle…? ;) ), but it is up to me  to complete my job, the writing, to the best of my ability.

If I’ve done that, then I’ve been a success.