Defining Success


Writing Sidekick sleeping…he’ll sleep anywhere.

My husband and I have this routine we follow almost every night before we drift into dream land. No planning went into this routine, no preconceived notion forms how it’s followed but over the years it’s developed into a habit.

As we lay there about to drift off, we let everything from the day come spilling out in conversation. Logic would say dinner would be a better time for this and my sleep habit would agree, but reality doesn’t usually agree with logic.

So the other night, my husband and I were discussing the deep matters of the world, workout schedules, work grievances, body aches and pains, you know, the really pressing stuff, when we stumbled onto the topic of success.

I’m a worrier. As you can imagine, my worry level is up to the red when it comes to The Adventure, which launches on Amazon the end of this month. As we discussed this, Nate commented, “Define what success is for you. People will tell you all sorts of things but if you know what you want, then you know if you’ve accomplished what you desired no matter what others say.”

This stuck in my brain like a fly in honey. It wriggled around until it became fully immersed in my thoughts.

Regular, traditional publishing says you have to sell thousands of copies before a book is a success. Some say you have to make a living off of your writing and then you’re a success. Others gauge it on whether or not they’re familiar with your name, or if they’ve heard of your book before. Some point to Amazon reviews and press releases, interviews and book signings.

By many of these, I’ve a long way to go before I’ve achieved success and if I let these things define what I’m striving for, I may never reach the point where I’m satisfied with my accomplishments. Ouch.

But Success, as according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as:
  • A: degree or measure of succeeding
  • B: favorable or desired outcome; also :the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
  • C: one that succeeds

Interesting…only one part of the definition deals with ‘wealth, favor, or eminence,’ and even those have varying degrees. A and C both rely heavily on what success is defined as in the first place. So really, the ‘favorable or desired outcome’ is where we each need to focus.

What, to each one of us, is the favorable or desired outcome that defines success?

The Adventure Kickstarter ImageFor The Adventure, I think achieving my goal for the year, as I outlined in my last post, The Trap in Dreaming, defines success.

That goal, specifically stated, was: Publish The Adventure and break even on the cost by the end of 2017.

Thanks to the amazing backers of The Adventure Kickstarter, that goal will be accomplished November 30th. Thus, this year has been a success. Period. Dot. Done. =)

What to you is success in your own life? Don’t let others define it for you.





Yarn, Sticky Notes and A Cat: If the First Attempt Doesn’t Succeed, Try Another Way

She ate it! She ate my work and left the evidence trailing down the wall, across the desk, over the floor, and down the stairs leading all the way to the front door like a smug “Ha! try again Mom!”


Sage, my cat. Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

My cat, my buddy who sits on my desk and watches me type, ate my timeline! Disappointment! Frustration! Failure!

I thought I’d found a way to overcome my issues with outlining a book. You see, I’m a visual learner. I retain details when I can see and interact with events. So a story that’s all in my head I have to, somehow, make more visual before I retain the ‘little’ details that lend a story texture.

To that end I’d strung yarn across the wall, put scenes on sticky notes and placed them in sequence along my ‘timeline’ of yarn.

So the wall wasn’t big enough to encompass a 100,000+ word story, but it was better than any other attempt I’d tried. It got me about one tenth of the way into the story.

So my sticky notes started to loose their battle with gravity and fluttered to the floor. I could just stick them back up and add tape if needed.

But my cat eating the yarn! That was the last straw, as it were. Space and gravity didn’t dissuade me but my cat’s infernal interest with all things string did me in. I scrapped the attempt of a yarn and sticky note timeline…

I shouldn’t dwell on this failure, however. The trick is to accept what’s happened and learn from it so that, when I try again, I might succeed. I advise you to try the same.

Two Einstein quotes are useful to keep in mind:


“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

and two

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

If we learn nothing from our failed attempts, we will continue to fail and might just be insain.

However, if we pay attention, we learn what did not work and can move on to another attempt. One failure, or ten or a thousand should not convince us to give up on our dreams.

So finding a good way to make a book outline visual is an ongoing process for me…

I had one failed attempt, but I learned, if I can see the outline written by hand, it helps but I need something big enough to encompass the entire story. And I need something that doesn’t draw my cat like a moth to light.

So, the next time I’ll try a large paper pad such as a teacher uses. (My poor husband will probably have to deal with these pages taped to our walls, maybe even the ceiling, but, bless him, he doesn’t mind such antics.)

So I encourage you, don’t give up simply because you’ve had a hiccup. Assess what happened, figure out why it didn’t go as planned, and move on with your new knowledge making your next attempt that much more likely to succeed.



P.S. What have you tried that didn’t work? What’d you learn? What will you do differently next time? Encourage each other to keep trying.