(re)Defining Success

Defining (1)
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
-Winston Churchill

The definition of success is fairly standard; the simple definition says success is achieving wealth, respect, or fame.

I’m glad they tossed in respect, otherwise, very few of us would be textbook-successful; and I suppose, if we’re being honest, many of us aren’t terribly respectable, either. But, you know what? I like going against the grain, so let’s just put away Merriam-Webster for a few minutes (Don’t worry writers, we aren’t tossing it for good) and rethink this word that feels so elusive at times.

How much wealth must one obtain in order to be successful? Do we all need to be millionaires? Hell, for some people going from eating Ramen noodles six days a week down to three is something to celebrate.

How much fame is required? We can’t all be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Besides aren’t we always hearing from some famous someone that fame isn’t all it is cracked up to be? Who wants to slurp down tomato bisque at a bistro with paparazzi getting close ups of the crouton crumbs on their shirt?

What I think most successful people forget to mention is that perhaps the largest, most important aspect of success is: failure. See one of my recent tweets:

Whenever I start getting aggravated with myself, which is often, and I feel like giving up, which is also often, I think about WD-40.

No, I don’t have some fetish for hardware lubricants. Have you ever wondered what it means? No? Well, it means water displacement perfected on the fortieth try. Someone spent years of their valuable time coming up with a solution for our squeaky doors, despite 39 total flops. That’s kind of spectacular, don’t you think?

Short moral of the story: Giving up will get you nowhere, and sticktoitiveness is paramount to honing your craft. Overnight successes are the exception, not the norm.

Obviously, we would all like for agents to compete for our favor, our first editions to be highly sought collector’s items and our own dream houses in which to write our never-ending list of best sellers. But, if that is the only measurement of success, most of us are going to be gravely dissatisfied, which is unacceptable. While pondering the various, and endless, variants of success, it dawned on me that my wee brain couldn’t possibly fathom what being successful in writing might mean to others.

Enter: Twitter.

Knowing if I were left to my own devices, this would – at best – be lackluster, I turned to Twitter and asked you guys for help. I was beyond blown away and humbled at the amazing response.

Seriously, the response was wonderful and incredibly sincere. I loved every single reply (which, as I write this, they are still coming in!) and can honestly say several of them made me a little emotional. Without further ado, I will share the awesomeness with you.



First, THANK YOU to all who participated in that little experiment, you’re all fabulous people.

Second, suck it Merriam-Webster.

Below is a video of a man you may not have heard of, but you really should have. Elon Musk is a fantastic human being and if there were only one successful person to take tips from, I’d venture to say he’s the guy.

In my eyes, if you keep putting words on the page even without the promise of publication or big bucks, you’re still successfully doing something you love – which is awesome! Let’s keep going! Tell me about your successes – great or small  – in the comments below!

10 thoughts on “(re)Defining Success

  1. Sarah Lentz says:

    I would love it if, after publishing my novel, at least one person tells me, “This is a book that needed to be written. Because I needed to read it.” If I never hear that, though, I want to at least know that I needed to write it. And that it did me good to finish it and to share it. Great post!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jewel says:

    I have many versions of success:
    Writing a sentence I don’t hate.
    Writing one I love enough to share with whoever is within viewing distance.
    Having someone tell me she has connected with a character of mine.
    Having someone tell me that interacting with me made her day better.
    Having someone tell me that I inspired him or her to write.
    Any of that. All of it. Thank goodness success has so many definitions…
    What a great post. Thank you so much for it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. blondeusk says:

    Fabulous post Aila!!! Such an engaging and supportive post. It’s a topic that is close to all our hearts. I just want one person to buy my book – most probably my mum. To have a book finishes and out there will be success for me.


  4. thomasjast says:

    Baller post! It’s so interesting to see the different perspectives on success, ones I hadn’t even considered. The responses are as unique as the people making them!

    Liked by 1 person

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