Part of my goal during my graduate school experience has been to read different genres. Since I did not study English as my major in undergrad, I really wanted to explore outside of my comfort zone of reading and try different books I normally wouldn’t have picked up before. Among those are horror books.
I have always admired what Stephen King has to say about writing and his insight on being a writer. On Writing is one of his works I would definitely recommend to any writer, as it is packed with advice and writing tips to give your writing that extra boost. Now, I am going to finally step up and take on one of his novels: Carrie.
After ordering Carrie online I anxiously awaited its arrival. As soon as it came in, I tore open the package and gazed at it in my hands. I opened it and only a couple pages in revealed a list of every work by Stephen King: 40 novels, 10 story collections and novellas, 11 screenplays (am I the only one who didn’t know he wrote screenplays?), seven works as Richard Bachman, and three nonfiction books!
As I sat mesmerized at his accomplishments over his career since publishing Carrie, his first novel, in 1974, it became a moment of reflection. I had his first ever novel in my hands and now, 43 years later, it is published with a list of his 71 published works. I felt like I held in my hands hardship, frustration, perseverance, late nights, early mornings, motivation, doubt, and success all at once. His whole career sat in my hands and I bet if he knew in 1974 that his first novel was one day going to be published with all 71 of his works, he wouldn’t believe it.
Thinking about all of that, I ponder over what a meaningful, successful career looks like. As I approach graduation in December and make my way through my twenties, I often think about where I want my life to go and what accomplishments I want to work towards.
Over the summer I was asked in a job interview, “What does success mean to you?” I thought about it for a moment and replied with how I believed that success meant always growing and learning and seeking personal development. Although I don’t think that was necessarily a bad answer, could it have been better? Perhaps in the moment of sweaty palms and increased heart rate typically induced by job interviews, that was just the best answer I could think of at that moment.
I wonder, though, if I could improve my response. While I always strive to learn and grow, could success be simpler than I am thinking? Or more complex?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines success as “degree or measure of succeeding” and “favorable or desired outcome; also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence”. While this may be a quite generic definition of success, I think it is worth developing our own definition. How else are we to create goals or grow if we don’t have a vision of what success looks like for us?
Certainly, Stephen King is one example of what I believe success looks like, and I look forward to learning more from him.
What does success mean to you? Do you think many people have a moment where they sit back and think, I did it, I reached success?