Tips from those who have gone before us
The Meaning of Success
By: Jen Stephens
I’m so delighted to be on The Writers Alley today! Thank you, Krista, for inviting me! I’m feeling a little intimidated, though. These ladies have a ton of great advice (At this point in my own writing I found the July 1st post quite useful!) and I only hope I can add to it!
I recently had the opportunity to speak on the topic of success and thought I would share a few of my ideas with you. According to dictionary.com (a very useful tool for writers), the first definition of success is “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors”. What does that mean? In my opinion, it basically means when you accomplish any goal no matter how big or how small. If you set a goal to become the next Bill Gates and you achieve it, well, you certainly are successful! On a smaller, more personal level, if you set a goal to lose 5 measly pounds or exercise 5 days a week and you accomplish it, you are still a success.
I sold my Harvest Bay series to Sheaf House, a small (but growing) publisher. The first of which, The Heart’s Journey Home, came out this past February and the second of which, The Heart’s Lullaby, is scheduled to release in March 2011. I didn’t get an advancement for these books and I also had the job of finding endorsers/reviewers which I had to send the galleys to. However, I have an incredible relationship with my publisher who has become more like a mentor and that means more to me than the other perks larger publishing houses offer, especially since I’m a mama to two young girls AND a teacher and between the two something is always bound to come up. Since the book has come out, I’ve received several emails of how they’ve been personally touched by the story. Those letters and the relationships I’ve built in this business are my personal definitions of success.
Can your idea of success change? I believe it can and it can go either way. You may reach your goal and say, “Well, that’s not what I thought it was going to be.” Or you can actively be pursuing your goal and reach a point where you say, “Ya know, this is a pretty cool place right here.” There’s nothing wrong with changing your idea of success as long as it doesn’t change you as a writer, a person, and most importantly a Christian.
I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. I hope, though, that I’ve given you something to think about. I want to leave you with the very popular verse from Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah wrote this to a group of people who had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and moved from their native Jerusalem to Babylon. Imagine how lost this group of people must have been, yet the Lord promised them that they will succeed. Be encouraged today. No matter where you are on your road, alley, or sidewalk to publication, trust in the Lord’s promise, believe in the talents He has given you, set your goal . . . and then enjoy your success.
Jen lives in the Nashville, Tennessee, area with her husband and two beautiful daughters. She teaches third grade at a Christian school and is very active with the youth in her church. A member of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Nashville Christian Writers Association, she writes in her “spare” time. Her first novel, The Heart’s Journey Home, released in February 2010. The second book in the Harvest Bay series, The Heart’s Lullaby, is scheduled to release in March 2011.