The definition of success

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Sometimes it feels like I can only process things if they are in writing. That’s why, last Tuesday, I wrote down my personal definition of success…as far as the creative writing/publishing industry is concerned. Here it is:

Success is having the book published. Success is having it do well enough to be able to keep writing and selling. Success is enough to afford a small apartment somewhere in NYC, food for my table, and clothes for my body. Success is being able to continue Compassion…and more. Success is being able to help my family.

As a side note, I’d like to say that I believe that success in life is following God and honoring Him. As far as my goals as an author, though, this set represents a huge victory for me.

You see, for most of my life I’ve nourished the secret thought that success equals fame and fortune. To be a successful writer, I thought I had to be a famous writer, someone like J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins or James Patterson. Success meant thousands if not millions of followers on Twitter. Success meant being recognized on the street. Success meant multiple homes and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last summer, though, I was in a counseling session and my amazing counselor said that she thought this kind of fame and fortune would be the worst possible things I could experience right now. I stopped talking and stared at her, open-mouthed. “Huh?”

She explained: if I was finding value in success, and this was my idea of success, achieving it would do nothing but make me big-headed and impossible. And if I ever lost it, I would also lose any sense of worth I felt.

I’ve been thinking about her words a lot. And somehow, when I woke up last Tuesday, I understood. I understood why I write: not because it is the pathway to fame and fortune (cause it’s not). It all goes back to story. Ever since I was a child, I have had an obsession with stories. I used to beg my parents to tell me stories of their childhood. As I grew older, I began reading. Then I discovered movies. Then TV. In the end I was filling my mind with as many stories as possible.

I write because there are stories I want to share with the world.

But I also write because the act of writing itself is something beautiful. It is cathartic. It makes me feel alive. It is the art form that I can do…I might even venture to say I am fairly good at it.

I write because I love it. Therefore, success as a writer means being able to continue doing what I want to do: write.

I’ve come to realize that I don’t need fame or fortune, millions of Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those things would be awesome, yeah. And I’m going to do my best and if I reach that type of fame, awesome.

But success, for me…success is being able to keep writing, keep loving and helping people, keep sharing my stories with the world.

4 thoughts on “The definition of success

  1. Good job Karis! I don’t know if you remember me but I was your babysitter in Bologna!! I remember how you loved to read and I am happy that you are cultivating this incredible gift: writing!!! I agree with you that there is something cathartic in it and I will certainly follow your blog from now on!! Good job and don’t give up on your dreams!!! Sara Whitman

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