Monday, January 18, 2010

Modern . . . Success

Reminder: Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Golden Keyes Parsons' A Prisoner of Versailles from Friday's post.

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I've been giving a lot of thought these last few days to success. It started when someone commented on a guest blog last week, "Congratulations on the success of your book!" To which I thought something along the lines of, "Huh? Can a book really be called a success when you've given away more copies than you've sold?" LOL. But I know what she meant--that all the reviews so far have been raving, that people respond to it with excitement. The comment made me smile . . . and think.

In one of my books, Yesterday's Tides, I have a main character who gave up her dreams to raise twins after getting pregnant at 16. She helps her mother run their oceanfront inn, does handywork, cleans the church--and grapples with the idea of success.

When I first wrote this book, it had 30 pages of story from when she was 16, when she and the hero were talking about her goals and dreams. Though all that stuff has been cut from the book, it still exists in the characters' backstory, so I still remember Louisa saying, "I don't know exactly what I want to do, but I want to be a success. I want the people of the world I choose to look at me in awe and say I'm the best at what I do." And given her quick mind, the hero was sure she'd do just that in whatever field she chose.

Nine years later when Rem (hero) comes back on the scene and points out she gave up absolutely everything, though she'd had so much potential, she says something along the lines of, "What are you talking about? I am a success in the world I chose. My kids know they come first. Their friends all look at me with awe and think I'm the coolest mom on the block. That's what matters."

In a work in progress I really need to finish one of these days (again--it's a rewrite), I have a character who has already enjoyed tremendous success in the music industry, but when everyone pushes her to branch out in another direction, she refuses because she's afraid she'll be successful at that too, and it'll take her away from her family.

Thinking of my heroines, of my own situation, of issues in my husband's companies lately, it really makes me wonder. We live in a world--and I work in an industry--where everything goes back to numbers. Success is measured in sales, and heaven help us if we don't meet projected expectations. We as Christians will often examine this and remind each other that true success is answering God's call and doing what He wants us to do, honoring Him while doing it.

I firmly believe that, but I also know that there's something to the numbers. Yes, I'm thrilled that my book has touched people . . . but my husband/publisher is still a loooooong way from breaking even on it, and until he does, he doesn't have the capital to invest in more books. Does that mean it needs to hit the Bestseller lists to be a success? No. (Not that I'd mind if it did, mind you. LOL)

Sitting here typing this up, it occurs to me that the best definition of success might come from II Corinthians 13:11. Be complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

So that's how I'm going to measure it. If I'm complete, I'm lacking nothing and don't have an excess of anything, which creates a balance that fosters comfort, unity, and peace. Can it really get any better than that?

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