You know what I mean when I say success, right?
Because the word success is everywhere. Books are written about it. Attributes of successful people are discussed. We use the word to describe and evaluate businesses, careers, individuals, processes, and products. So, when you consider yourself, your creative pursuits, your circumstance, and your future, how do they stack up?
I’ll tell you a story. I moved to a new town. Left a writing community I’d had for years. One where writers had turned into friends I felt connected with, no matter where we were in our creative process. My first act in my new town was to join a writing group. The leader & teacher sent an intake form to see who I was. In short order after I replied she let me know she didn’t think I was a good fit for her group. You can imagine where I went with that.
But what she wrote was ‘you are much too successful for this group.’ Those exact words. Successful. She viewed my years of classes, workshops & retreats, my publications, the fact I wrote a novel, once had a literary agent as success. In hindsight, a gift. But it hurt. I didn’t feel successful. I hadn’t reached my goals. I’d reached levels. Like a bestselling book & fine tea, successes as part of the process on the road to being a success by my definition.
This is big for creatives, especially in an atmosphere where it seems so few have success by traditional standards. Where myths abound, like the starving artist, the disappearance of print books, and the doom of slow writers. Where lessons, teachers, and gurus tell us the ‘right’ way to create. And the truth is we’re the only ones who can define success for ourselves. How we define it affecting our experience in life and our writing.
Take a moment now, ask yourself:
- What do I want in my life?
- What do I choose?
- What does my writing mean to me?
- How do I want to feel as I live my best creative life?
These questions are not simple to answer. And your answers will evolve.
For each thing you do, ask again. Notice your expectations shift.
As one author said about her book launch. . .she didn’t sell books, there weren’t as many people as she’d hoped, but it was a success. Because she knows what her writing means to her and she’d defined success as connection with new people, and she connected with each person there.
We’ve got big stuff happening in the country right now, including who and what we are as a nation & people redefined to the world by those in power. The arts and humanities may well be defunded. Supports eliminated for writers and creatives. I believe this is, in part, because there’s a huge divide on the definition of success people hold for themselves. But writers and artists hold the Vision for those who can’t see, the words for those who don’t have them, and the conscience of society. It’s truly up to us to consider how we define success for ourselves. To ask those four important questions above.
Author & artist Mary Anne Radmacher says, “. . .even from a dark night songs of beauty can be born.”
We can create songs of beauty.
“Set an intention for yourself at the beginning of each month, writers. Write it on a Post-it
and stick it to your dashboard, to your corkboard, to the door so you’ll see it on your way out.
Find out what happens when you remind yourself on a daily basis of
something that’s meaningful to you, or to which you aspire.”
~ Brooke Warner, publisher & author
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