Photo by Mad Baker
Viktor Frankl, a psychologist and holocaust survivor, wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning: ‘Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.’
As I wait for ‘The Divine Pumpkin’ to be published, I’m already worrying about how it will be received. Will I sell many copies? Will people who read it, like it? Will the publisher think I’m worth keeping on for my next novel? Of course, no one can answer those questions now, and instead of worrying about the success rate, I am trying to focus on my new WIP – trying to keep my mind active on something I have some control over.
But what is success? Is it actually finishing a novel? Is it getting an agent? Is it getting a publishing contract? Is it selling 100 books? Is it selling 10,000 Books? Of course the answer is ‘yes’ to all of them – and the success can be graded to certain degrees for each of the answers.
It has taken me four years of crafting my writing, three novels which will never be seen, and numerous rejections to get to this stage with my fourth novel. So when I received an email from the publisher saying they wanted to work with me – that was a huge success for me. It rated highly, and I was on a high for days. Reality kicked it – would I be able to work with an editor? More questions followed, each one question my abilities and querying the future success of the novel and myself as an author.
But as Viktor Frankl says, if I constantly aim at success, I may miss it as I only had my eye on the bull’s eye and not the whole dart board, so to speak. There is more to life than success, although success is what makes us feel like life is worth living. And for that to happen, we need to acknowledge that success isn’t about all the big things in life, the small things count just as much. Getting the children to school on time, preparing a delicious meal, sending a piece into a writing competition, getting short-listed for a prize, all have a value of success tagged onto them. We all perceive success differently, and some people may need major things to happen to qualify for the term of ‘success’, whereas, others may find small tasks completed a great achievement. Perhaps people who fall into the latter category get more joy out of life, as they aren’t just aiming for the big prize.
So to heed my words, I’m going to work hard at promoting my novel when it comes out, but I’m also going to count any small action as an achievement, as just waiting for the ‘big time’ to hit with ‘The Divine Pumpkin’ may bring more misery than contentment, and I know that when I hold my novel in my hands,I will feel the power of success wash over me for a few minutes, before I plunge right back in on my new WIP.
I hope that the big and small successes come knocking on your door someday soon.
Happy Word Flow One & All.
5 thoughts on “Don’t aim at success…”
The fact that success takes so many forms is likely why you shouldn't aim at it. What's the real target? just write, live, and keep producing good work, such as this post.
Lovely to hear from you, Rob. You're right, doing what we're doing now, writing our heart out, is what matters – the happiness we attain from that should be a tick in the old success box
Hemmie-I have to thank you so much for this post. I'm in the same boat as you. Mine comes out April 4, 2012 and it can be nerve wracking thinking about all the questions and “what ifs”. I so agree with you. Focusing on small successes or just on the beauty of the moment is so important. And I salute you for jumping right in to your next WIP….you give me that “ooompf” to do the same. And yes, all the moments that lead you to this moment are successes. You did something people only dream of doing and it's easy to forget that when we have our eyes glued to the next thing. Absolutely love this post…will Tweet….I can sooo relate. Glad to find you!
Just shared on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Love it Hemmie and I'm so interested in your book, “The Divine Pumpkin.” Perhaps we could do an interview later on my blog after it comes out? I'd love that!
Thank you so much for your kind words – I so appreciate your comments.
You have less time than me to wait for the launch of your book – so I'll watch you anxiously to see how it goes for you – but seeing the amount of support you have on Twitter & your blog – I believe you'll do very well!
Lovely to have met such an inspiring & supportive fellow author.
PS: Perhaps you would like to do an interview for your book on my blog wen it comes out – I would love to be interviewed on your blog too – thanks for sharing this wonderful idea.