For the New Year: Define Success

Sometime this week, spend 30 minutes listening to this “Write from the Deep” podcast. Hosted by Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young, they had me as a guest to discuss how writers define success. My hope is that the message is one that will resonate with you throughout the new year.

You can visit the web site to listen to the interview, read a synopsis of this conversation, and to subscribe to the podcast:

or click the “play” button below and listen.

13 Responses to For the New Year: Define Success

  1. Avatar
    Mermaid Scribbler January 2, 2018 at 7:29 am #

    What a wonderful way to start the new year! Thank you.

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    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 2, 2018 at 8:01 am #

    Great stuff for the New year, Steve. Thank you for this.

    I’m finding that for me, success equates to discipline, because that’ what keeps hope alive in one’s darker hours. Getting pneumonia over the Christmas holidays, on top of everything else, I’m in no little danger, and things are so unpleasant (putting it mildly) that it’s easy to feel abandoned by God, and to metaphorically fold my arms and just stop…stop writing, stop caring, stop nurturing the hope that there may yet be hope.

    That way leads down a path from which, eventually, there’s no return, because it leads to a magnetically false God, one whose promises are cherry-picked and whose fell warnings are cast aside, and in whose inevitable failure is the seed of faith’s destruction, hope’s abnegation, and the withering of love.

    So success is holding tight to where I am, writing when I don’t want to write (like right now), forcing myself to keep caring because I cared once, and choosing faith, not because it ‘works’ but because it’s only truly defined by the chiaroscuro of pain’s deep shadow.

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    Rebekah Love Dorris January 2, 2018 at 8:41 am #

    I pray you find grace in this rough spot, Andrew, that your wife has strength to keep going, and that you get to taste the sweetness of relief soon. And that the joy of writing returns. You are such a blessing and inspiration to so many. God bless you with an amazing 2018.

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      Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 2, 2018 at 2:43 pm #

      Thank you so much, Rebekah; we are truly grateful for your prayers.

      I had the choice this morning to take another breath, or to let go. As the darkness closed in there was a distant light, the light of the eternal day’ dawn…and I chose to turn away, and fight through the gloom into the cold shrill earth-light of my life here.

      All battles end; but I want to see mine through. I want to bear witness to the love that carries us through when we falter, the love of the friends I’ve never met, and to the Love that carries us Home.

      I am sore wounded, but am not slain.
      I will lay me down for to bleed awhile,
      and then rise to fight at your side again.

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        Rebekah Love Dorris January 2, 2018 at 3:38 pm #

        Wow. Such an honor to talk to someone so close to the brink of faith becoming sight. Glad you chose to abide and continue with us…may God ease your pain.

        “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith…”

        • Avatar
          Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 2, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

          Rebekah, the honour is truly mine, at the end of my strength, to be lifted up by this community, to a height whence my eyes can discern Grace.

          And I love the Scripture! Thank you for that.

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    Norma Brumbaugh January 2, 2018 at 10:38 am #

    Loved it, and so true. Not only does the message about succe’s speak to what we do, it motivates us to fix our eyes on the spiritual dimension. Thank you for sharing it here . . . and for your words of wisdom.

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    Joey Rudder January 2, 2018 at 12:18 pm #

    Thank you, Steve. I left a rather lengthy comment on the site…

    But I do want to add here that you opened my eyes to “I just want to do what God wants me to do” and how it falls into being a cop-out. I never saw it like that before, but you’re right. Later we can blame God or anyone else when everything falls apart.

    Funny, just this morning I prayed about something new God is working on in my life and, without going in to detail, told a friend I’m praying about it and “just want to do what God wants me to do.”

    I think it’s time I got serious and started praying and living more boldly. That’s the word for me this year: bold.

    So thank you again!

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    Judi Clarke January 2, 2018 at 12:37 pm #

    Such valuable words, Steve. Thank you for your consistent focus on God and His purposes for we whom He has called to write for Him.

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    Michael Torres January 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm #

    Yo, you got a webcam on my soul? Timely again. Thanks a million.

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    Carol Ashby January 3, 2018 at 8:51 am #

    Steve, I only had time to read the summary, but it was so close to the thoughts of my own heart that I found myself nodding at almost every line. Writing novels is loads of fun, but that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m indie publishing because I’m writing historical novels with the main plot line being the spiritual transformation of a lost soul, not exactly what you’d expect to sell >5K books the first year for a traditional publisher. Indie wasn’t my intention from the beginning, but ya gotta go where God directs you. We’d be running nicely in the black if we weren’t giving the after-tax income to mission groups. But making money isn’t the point, even for a great cause.

    My deepest heart’s desire is to know that at least one person was “brought into eternity” by one of my novels. Hearing from readers who say they were encouraged or challenged in their faith is enough “success” to tell me God is using the books for His purpose, which is my ultimate writing goal. It may not be this side of heaven that I hear from that new sister or brother that what I wrote cracked a shell and the Holy Spirit entered through that crack. But just thinking about that first meeting brings grins and tears at the same time.

    Thanks for encouraging us to keep the eternal perspective. You and your crew are a blessing to all of us here.

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    John de Sousa January 3, 2018 at 8:34 pm #

    Wise words. So encouraging.

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    LK Simonds January 4, 2018 at 8:28 am #

    What Carol said: “Ya gotta go where God directs you.” That’s really the bottom line, isn’t it? Even though people let a lot of crazy show in the name of God directing them, the fact remains that he does indeed guide his children.

    Thank you, Steve, for this post. It was super timely for me. This past weekend I woke up to the unexpected thought about the very question you put out there: How will I measure my success as a writer? It’s fair to say that most, if not all, of our writing decisions are rooted in the answer to that question, whether we consciously think the matter through or default to a value that’s hidden beneath assumptions.

    For me, the answer boils down to what you said in the interview about the relationship between a single book and a single reader. There’s no way to predict that single reader’s history, frame of mind, or aesthetic when they pick up the book. So the choices really have to be about the work: the story we choose to tell and the language and imagery we use to tell it. Anyway, that’s how I’m seeing it four days into a fresh year.

    Thanks again.

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