Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Musing About Success - and the Value of Failure

By Glenys O'Connell

I've thought a lot about success over the years, and the conclusion I have come to is that success is something different for everyone. One of the mistakes we make is equating success to riches - but not every success is accompanied by a fat cheque.

I consider the most successful things in my life are beyond price: a long and happy marriage and four gorgeous kids are among the most important things in my life - they top the bill of successes that make me proud.

There are other successes; different careers I've loved and still work at in various ways; friendships over years and new; homes and places that have been memorable or educational; businesses that succeeded - or failed. I include some failures in the successes, because we can learn so much from failures that that in itself is a success. If that doesn't sound too bizarre?

And sometimes, looking back, there are successes that I was moving too fast to realise at the time were successes. Events, people, ambitions realised that I didn't take the time to enjoy or savour because pressure to succeed in other ways was too intense. Taking time to smell the roses is so important, and yet something most of us only realise later in life.

Being published is a major barometer of success amongst writers, yet it's not the huge royalties (falls on floor laughing) that keeps most of us going. It's the challenge of getting the words on paper, the fun of playing with imaginary friends, the burst of delight and pride when a reader says: I loved your book!

Giving pleasure or helping others can be a major success in itself. I have two recently published non-fiction books: Depression: The Essential Guide, and PTSD: The Essential Guide and already I know these books have made an impact in the lives of people struggling with these problems. That feels like success to me!

Here's an excerpt which talks about success, from Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book, my soon-to-be published book on writing:

As writers, we’re dreamers – and I don’t just mean about characters and plot lines. No, we also fantasize about our careers, about signing books while surrounded by adoring fans, of watching our titles fly up the NY Times bestseller list, of being invited to chat with Oprah, of writing non-fiction that catapults us onto the speech circuit as An Authority.

And then we daydream about what we’ll do with all those millions we've earned through our writing, or how we’ll parlay our growing knowledge into something that will help change people’s lives…. Yes, there are probably as many dreams as there are writers when it comes to thoughts of the life we’ll lead as Famous Writers whose books are Bestsellers.

But here’s the hard truth: these dreams have little to do with your success as a writer – unless you act on them.

To be successful you need talent, yes, and a commitment to your work. You need to mix that talent with a fair old dose of hard work to turn those dreams into your reality. The simple truth is that first and foremost, a writer writes. It’s that simple. The complicated bit comes in knowing what you should be writing and in planning for your success. Don’t give up the dreams; just temper them with a little feet-on-the-ground common sense.

Find a way to turn them into goals. Plan your writing career as you would any other endeavor that’s important to you. Dream big, for sure, but keep one eye firmly fixed on your own reality.

Novelist, non-fiction writer, journalist, playwright and counselor/life coach - Glenys O'Connell has worked hard at them all. She has learned to celebrate success and laugh in the face of failure! She likes to drool over her pages on Amazon, where her books are all available in both print and ebook form.


Alison Henderson said...

Glenys, you've had an amazing career thus far, and I'm sure more successes are down the road. Congratulations!

Jannine Gallant said...

You have plenty of successes to count! keep up the great work.

Colleen Connally said...

I agree with you. You write because you have to and I'm glad you do write. Great books!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Glenys,
Great blog. I agrew with every word you wrote, especially about a writer having to write.



Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Terrific post. Our successes are the things and people who make us happy. Writing just happens to be one of those things.

glenys said...

A big thank you to everyone for all the comments. I'm not online as much as I'd like due to some personal stuff in Real Life, but I do apppreciate your support.