What Defines Success?

The Red Vineyard---Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Red Vineyard—Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Legend suggests Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime—The Red Vineyard. Investigation into the matter shows that it’s likely he sold two paintings, as well as some sketches.

Regardless of which story you believe, one thing is certain. Van Gogh killed himself at age 37, believing himself a failure.

Today he’s known as one of the most prolific artists of all time.

By van Gogh’s standards, I know plenty of artists who achieved more “success” than him in their lifetimes who will never be famous. I know bands that play at local establishments and sell CDs of their work. Artists who have sold work and been commissioned to do more. Authors who have sold more than one copy of their books, who have multi-book deals. Heck, I fall into that category.

I don’t know if any of us will ever be famous. And, while I can’t speak for everyone else, I don’t feel like a failure. I don’t measure my success by number of sales. Sure, I’d love that number to be in the millions, but that’s not why I write.

I write because I have stories to tell, themes to explore, concepts to share. I write because I want not to only entertain people, but to get them thinking about their lives and their roles in the world. I write not for notoriety, but for legacy. This is my skill set, and this is what I can leave to the world. Hopefully I’ll leave it a better place than I found it.

For me, success is completing the tasks I set for myself. I wanted to share my words with the world, and I have. That, to me, is success. (click to tweet)

However, if you want to encourage thousands of people to buy my work, well… that’s just icing on the cake. 🙂

medici protectorateI have a new novel, Bleeding Heart, releasing this month. Tuesday, May 19, to be exact. When it is published, I’ll be sharing a story that’s important to me, because it is inspired by a story of my grandfather’s heritage. Through this story, I have immortalized his legacy. And I can’t think of anything more successful than that.

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Writer. Editor. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Dog owner. Award-winning author and recipe creator. Conservative Catholic with an avid interest in the supernatural. Think all that doesn't go together? Then you have to get to know me better.

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6 Comments

  1. Michele Jones

    May 11, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I agree with you, I don’t write for money. I write for me, and the pleasure that it can give to others. To me, success is not measured by what you have, but rather by the goals that you accomplish for yourself. Too often we are extremely hard on ourselves for not accomplishing the one big thing, rather than celebrating all of our small triumphs.

    Very happy that you have another book coming out, and one that is a tribute to our heritage and family. I cannot wait to read it.

    • Thanks, Michele. It’s kind of a nervous balance… trying to pay homage to the family and yet veering in a different direction. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings when they realize it’s not creative nonfiction. I hope it’s received in the spirit in which I intended it.

  2. I can’t wait to read this book! Please keep me posted. I used to write thinking about notoriety. As I matured on this journey, I found that the best success comes from within. When I finished final edits on Trails in the Sand, I found myself crying! And I wrote the thing. I knew in that moment I had achieved the highest level of success possible. I’d pleased myself. Thanks for the post, Staci.

    • Thank you for sharing that story, PC. If you can move yourself–even when you know the storyline–then that’s truly the pinnacle of success. (And I will let you know when Bleeding Heart releases. Thanks for your interest.)

  3. Van Gogh’s life was sad, yet one of my favorite quotes comes from him. “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘I cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” That has encouraged me many times with writing.

    Excited about your book and I love what you said about not writing for notoriety, but legacy.

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