By Renee Jean
Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I began reading his work in my early teenage years and follow him to this day. I have had different reasons for doing so over the last couple decades but appreciation for his work and a touch of aspiration for his level of achievement have always been leading the way.
When it comes to appreciating his work, there are levels. I am not big into the paranormal so I
walk a fine line with horror because they often involve creatures or abilities from beyond what is human. Some of his books have a story that transcends these additional elements, while others have so much going on with psychic abilities or creatures from the dark realms that I find it difficult to stay focused. This does not reflect in any way on his worth or what others would like or dislike, just my own personal preference.
The second part of my admiration comes from his success. I have always told my friends and family I would love to be as successful as he has been. However it wasn't until I read On Writing, his book recounting his journey and insights into the art of writing, that I realized how subjective “success” truly can be for different people.
According to Stephen King, “Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting
dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it's about enriching the lives of those who
will read your work, and enriching your life as well”. It isn't about making a million sales, having nothing but perfect five star reviews, or even becoming an icon with your own Pop! character. (Yes, I do own a Stephen King Pop!) Success is something so much more personal.
On www.thecreativepenn.com Joanna Penn asks a few simple questions. What is your definition of success – for this book and your writing career? How will you track and measure that success? What do you want to do with that success? What is the point in your creative work? Like many I would have initially defined success as hitting the bestseller list, making enough to leave my day job, or getting a traditional publishing contract with one of the big name companies with an advance big enough to treat my mom and myself to the Alaskan cruise she has always dreamed about taking. Having now taken some time to consider the questions on a deeper level I find my answers are different. While it would be amazing to have the coveted “bestseller” tag on my books, I don't feel it is something I need in order to be happy. Making enough to quit the day job would be spectacular financially however I struggle with staying focused and having the routine of a regular job helps keep me on track. Finally, while a traditional publishing house does have several benefits, I'm not sure it will ever be the right path for me. Plus I can always just save up and take my mom on a cruise for her birthday some year.
Joanna goes on in her blog to say she has considered the work and her pride in it to be how she defines success. I think, while difficult to measure pride, this is an excellent way to go about the work. When someone reads a copy of Survivor and takes the time to write and say they recognized a friend, family member, or even themselves in the pages, I develop a bond and connection to that person that would never have existed if I hadn't taken the chance to share my story. When I sign a copy of Just Deal With It by saying “Don't Lick The Dealer” and get that quirky, questioning smile in return I know they are going to dive in and look for the answer to the unspoken questions. For me, that is success.
The point in my work is to share a piece of myself with the world. I want to bring smiles, make
people think, or just shine a light on a less than popular subject, because these are the things
meaningful in my life. The only time money comes into play other than paying for a table at a signing or ordering more copies of books, is when I am using the books for charity and trying to see how I can make the greatest impact possible. Like I mentioned at the beginning, success is subjective and personal. There is no right or wrong definition but as I am preparing for the new year and looking at what my goals will be I am keeping my own version at the forefront of my mind.