What’s Your Yardstick?
As I race through NaNo at my usual pace, another event is looming. I’m on the doorstep of that magical (and terrifying) time when I release Bound. I only have a couple small things to do, then it’s time to go live with my first published novel. The impending event has me all introspective. I know, hard to believe for a girl who happily lives in her own imagination whenever presented an opportunity to do so, but I don’t get introspective that often. The subject of this deep thinking? What my definition of success is.
You see, I think that we all have our own, because it depends on what you want. Mine likely won’t be quite the same as yours and vice versa, especially as not everyone who follows my blog is a fellow writer. That’s okay, because we all want different things in life. It’s how this is supposed to work. But, having thought about this a fair bit as I’ve worked through the process to get Bound to this point, I thought I’d share my ideas on the subject.
For me, success isn’t a numbers thing. It’s not sell X number of copies of however many books or make Y amount of money. I said to someone just today that money is the least motivating thing in the world for me. So long as I have enough to cover my bills and keep me in coffee, internet and a laptop, I’m happy with what I have money-wise. I’ve just never been that into stuff, despite my love of tech toys.
For me, success is about touching people with my life in a way that makes theirs better. I know, that sounds so cliche, but it’s really what I want. I hope I can do that with my words. I know it’s in me to do, as I’ve written notes and letters to family and friends that touched them deeply. I want to do that with my stories. If someone reads one and tells me it made a difference to them, whatever that difference is, then I will call myself a success. I don’t care if that difference is to give them a refuge from their own life for a while or making them think about something in a new way. Even if it’s as simple as they enjoyed the book so much they didn’t want it to end. That’s enough for me. That’s success. You’ve touched them if they feel that way. I can’t imagine a better feeling than someone saying, “I want more of your work.” That’s all that I could or would ask for in the world.
With regard to my peers, I suppose that to me success is their respect, be it in the form of a kind word about my work or questions asked when they need advice. I know there are a few writers I love that I’d offer that to if I didn’t think it might seem creepy (they don’t know me from anyone really). And, of course, to know that even some of my peers like my work would be amazing too. You can’t have too many of that sort of compliment.
I feel about the same in regards to my personal life, not just my work as a writer. If I can make the lives of those around me just a little bit better, even through something as simple as being there to listen, I’m a success. Making someone smile or laugh? Yup, that’s success too. I’m lucky enough to feel successful in this way quite often, even as I have many around me who offer that same thing, the laugh when I need it, a virtual hug on a bad day, or just knowing there’s someone to listen when I need to talk. I guess you get what you give in life.
So, now that you know the kind of success I want in life and how I define it, I’m going to do something I don’t do too often. I invite you to have a thought or two on the question. Really ask yourself what you want from your life, the things that are important to you. Leave a comment with any answers you feel comfortable sharing. I’m curious to see what others use as their yardstick.