Do you even know what a laurel looks like?

Following up on my post Monday at Silk And Shadows about Happily Ever Afters…

At Deadline Dames, author Devon Monk posted about defining your success.  Go read it (while you’re at it, you’ll also want to hurry up and read — if you haven’t — her first Allie Beckstrom story MAGIC TO THE BONE, so you can read book 2, MAGIC IN THE BLOOD, now out; great heroine and worldbuilding) and then I’ll tell you what I’m finding out about success.

Everybody talks about goal setting, with small and large goals that help you chart your progress.  Presumably, those goals are helping you become successful, however you define that.  Again, you’ll probably have small and large successes, more or less easily attained. 

I’ve always kept my goals and successes as a sort of check list.  Before I sold my book, my list went something like this:
Write pages. Finish chapters. Revise story. Submit book. Submit book. Submit book. Wash rinse repeat.

Now I’ve sold a book — and put that big checkmark with exclamation points next to the list — all those earlier steps still apply, plus a host of new items: Find reviewers. Send out ARCs. Plan blog tour. Ritually sacrifice chocolate bunny to the fates in hopes of happy readers. Etc.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for that feeling of success.

I mean, the checkmark and exclamation points were great.  But…  Obviously, there’s something invisible on my checklist, something I don’t even know is there, that’s keeping me from feeling successful.  Maybe that’ll change when my book is truly out.  Or maybe my critique partners are right and my Eeyore self will never be happy.

Devon Monk describes her path to success as laying one brick after, creating the road to Oz.  So true.  I’m twisting her Yellow Brick Road a bit, but in my version, we bricklayers stand up occasionally and straighten our backs.  We critically analyze the path we’ve laid, then we look out at the horizon ahead and dream about getting there.

I suspect there are a lot of people like me, who reach each step along the road and realize it’s not quite what they thought, not quite enough.  So instead of feeling bad about myself for being greedy or discontented or pathological in some way, I’m going to go ahead and give myself a goal I can never reach.  That way, I’ll always have something to point at, to say “That’s when I’ll know I’m successful.”  And with that ahead of me, I’ll always know where I’m going. 

I’m still working (always working!) on what my ultimate success — let’s call it the infinity brick — should be.  And now that I think about it, it sounds terrible to forever be carrying a brick around.  But then again, it’s not a bad idea to keep a brick in your pocket when traveling unfamiliar paths.  A brick can be used as a stepping stone, a counterweight, a weapon… er, a pillow, if you’re desperate.

Not that we’ll be resting in them any time soon, but here’s what a laurel looks like:

SUN0909 Hedge

Do you have an infinity brick?  A final step you’ll someday take and know you’ve arrived?

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5 thoughts on “Do you even know what a laurel looks like?

  1. Brick in pocket, yes and no. I assume you mean professional success, not personal, because they are poles apart.

    At your age, I measured my professional success, as a novelist, as holding my book in my hand, and hearing from readers. I’m delighted you have (soon!) reached the pinnacle of success I didn’t achieve! It almost happened, twice… Life is a pesky disruption…

    A writer is always on a journey to create anew – nurture that inner Eeyore! You’ll soon break that brick in half, create a better balance and realize, you can also file your nails (claws?) on that brick. This is to be ready for battle, or a better grip as you cling to the vertical wall of success.

  2. You know, I’m really glad I read this because I thought there was something wrong with me. I’ve reached all of my HUGE goals that I set a year ago (go me!) but… its not enough. Not even close. Because now, my goals are bigger and better and though a year ago, I thought life wouldn’t be able to get better than it would be if I hit the goals I recently hit… I WANT MORE!

    Yay, I’m glad I’m not just totally greedy.

    • Yay you on the goal smashing! Brick dust in the hair is sexy 🙂 I’m so glad you’re out there wanting more too. Somehow, ambition has gotten a bad name. As if ambition always means taking over the world.

      Well, yes, I mean, we ARE planning on taking over the world. But people say that like it’s a bad thing. Discontented overachievers, unite!

  3. Perhaps success for some IS ambition? Always moving forward, being able to adjust our paths, dreaming, learning – could we really ask for more success than that? As long as we remember to enjoy the journey itself… 🙂

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