I've been thinking quite a bit about what it takes to be successful, and I've decided it depends on how you define success. Do you define success by fame? I think that may be how a lot of us define it. And I think that may be exactly what stymies us, too. How can we ever become famous for our (fill in the blank) talent, if no one ever knows who we are?
I've done some musing (was actually up most of the night), and I got to thinking, why not me? I grew up in Hendersonville, Tennessee, a bedroom community for music stars. In my first part time jobs I waited on Leon Russell, Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, Barbara Mandrell and others. Taylor Swift graduated from my high school (some years after me). My mama grew up with Buddy Holly, and I'm two degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon None of this name-dropping has anything to do with my writing, but bear with me. I promise I'm making a point here.
On a more personal note, an old friend of mine, Johnny Talbot is a successful fashion designer (Talbot Runhof). My friend Chambers Stevens (formerly Steve Chambers) is an actor, married to a producer, and my new friend, Sue Dent, is a writer. So what does any of this have to do with my success? Not one dang thing.
Except for this. If you look at each of these people, they have a couple of things in common. First, there is no denying that they are talented at whatever they chose to do. Second, and probably most important: they had a dream, and they did not give up on it. They kept on until they reached their goals.
I was reflecting on the two I grew up with, Johnny and Steve. Neither of them were voted "Most Likely to Succeed", and if I remember correctly, there was nothing about them that screamed "Future Success". Talented, yes, but lots of people are talented. What separated them from the crowd was the fact that they believed in themselves enough to keep going.
It took me a long time to pick up the pen and write. I spent years looking at all the successful writers thinking that there was no way I'd ever write as good a book as Stephen King or Nora Roberts or John Grisham. But you know what? I'll never know unless I try. My definition of success is not to be a best-selling author. My definition of success is to write the best book I can, put it out there, and have people read it.
After all, why not me?