Contemplating my success as a writer, I could talk about how I published my first book, Ballet Music For the Dance Accompanist, which has been carried in bookstores all across the country, and has sold overseas. Or, I could talk about Solfege Town, an exciting method for teaching children of all ages about the musical scale, which is in print, and has also done extremely well as an e-book, continuing to net me a check every couple of months.
Maybe that’s what prospective authors are waiting to hear but that’s not success to me anymore.
I was once under the impression that I would reach a pinnacle of achievement at which point I would no longer have to worry. I had been searching for this place my whole life, and would know it when I reached it. I thought if I read the biographies of my heroes for clues on how they had gotten there, and styled myself after them, I would one day “be a success.”
The money I made on my first books is spent now, invested towards future books. The thrill I got at the enthusiasm over the projects is now a matter of history, something I remember fondly. In short, I can’t really bank my success the way I thought I’d be able to.
Success for me is getting out of bed in the morning with a new idea to try that I hadn’t thought of before. Success is managing to write a paragraph in my newest novel at the end of a long day. Success is surviving the fear that comes from feeling like a complete failure, and knowing that, if I made it through once, I’ll make it through the next time.
Success is in the things I do every day to keep moving forward. Any step I take that points me in a direction of prosperity, workmanship and inspiration is a successful step. If I can keep focusing on the quality of my work without worrying about whether I am a success, whether I’ll be a success, or whether I once was a success, then I have succeeded.
I wish all authors the utmost success in their endeavors.
Adam Cole is the inventor of Solfege Town and Inverse Anatomy, two radical ideas for teaching music to young people. He has published three novels and two non-fiction books, and offers workshops and public-speaking engagements on improving performance through The Feldenkrais Method. He has a newsletter at https://www.mymusicfriend.net.