Unsurprisingly a new year is a great time to set goals for the year ahead and to wish people health, happiness and success in 2017.
Success = the accomplishment of an aim or purpose (dictionary definition)
But what does success mean for you personally?
When my shoulder tendonitis was at its worst and I’d spent 3 days in my pyjamas sat on the sofa because the pain and painkillers were wiping me out and moving my left arm enough to get dressed (with assistance) was too hard, the day I did get dressed again and even left the house for a short walk down the road felt like a huge achievement.
While chatting to a friend recently, who also loves to write but never finishes anything apparently, she was very insistent that completing a full manuscript should be seen as a great success.
For a long time though, in terms of writing, I’ve thought that success meant a published book. However, as I found last year, that sort of thinking can be damaging and depressing. And I’m far from being the only writer who’s come to that conclusion.
SF Said – a great published middle grade writer – said this in a #ukmgchat conversation on Twitter:
— SF Said (@whatSFSaid) December 7, 2016
In all the struggles I faced about writing last year, I came to the same conclusion as SF and the many other writers who have said similar things recently (fortunately for you, I can’t find all their comments in order to reference them too!).
If I put some words down on paper, then that’s a success. If I finish a full manuscript, then that’s a big success. If I love my writing and it makes me laugh or cry or think about the characters when I’m going about everyday life, then that’s a massive success.
If an agent or a publisher ends up loving it as much as me = fantastic! But, if that doesn’t happen, for whatever reason, I can self-publish and all the people who have listened to me claim to be a writer for the last few years can finally read for themselves what I’ve actually been doing!
As the dictionary suggests, success can be whatever aim or purpose I set for myself. I don’t have to live up to someone else’s measure of success.
To be honest though, I’m pretty sure I reached the pinnacle of my career on my birthday last year when my youngest son presented me with a Lego model he’d built based on my book. The protagonist was transporting my present in her space pod, while the antagonist was waiting outside with his henchmen to cause trouble!
It’s not an entirely accurate representation, but to have someone connect with my story and interpret it in my favourite building bricks was incredible. I realised then that my ultimate goal – the true definition of success for me – had never been a published book after all, or even for that book to be made into a blockbusting film. It was for my story to come to life as a Lego set.
And now there’s a great big tick against that achievement, any other successes that come my way are just an added bonus!