What is Success?

Success

School has officially ended for the semester and one thing we learned has been sticking with me, so I thought I would talk about it. So this won’t be like my usual posts, but I hope you’ll stick around to read it, anyway.

In one of my classes this past semester we read a short story called Sur by Ursula K. Le Guin. I won’t describe it too much in case any of you would like to look it up, but it’s about a group of women travelling to Antarctica and keeping it a secret. One of my classmates posted on the discussion board asking about the “achievement” in the story. A few of my classmates were debating on whether or not the expedition to Antarctica could exactly be called an achievement. This is simply because the women in the story kept it a secret. They didn’t share their achievement; therefore no one knows about the achievement. How can you do something as great as travel to Antarctica and never share the news?

I commented on the thread stating that achievement is measured by your own personal goal and your perspective on it. For example, I believe travelling to Antarctica is a huge achievement; especially since it was their first time doing so. Just because the group of females did not share their journey with their friends, family, and the press, it doesn’t mean they weren’t successful. To put it simply, they wanted to travel to Antarctica and they did. Wouldn’t you call that an achievement?

I associate the word “achievement” with “success” because they’re both about reaching a goal. According to Dictionary.com, this is one definition of success: “the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.” I can only half agree with this. The reason I agree with it is because of the “position” part. I used to want to be the director of the preschool I worked for. If I had worked my way up to that position then I would have felt successful because it was something I wanted to do and I would have worked hard to get there.

The reason I disagree with that definition is because of the “wealth” part. Money does not buy happiness even though our paychecks always make us smile. However, once the bills start rolling in, our smile fades and we’re back to square one. If your goal was to make it to the top of your career with a nice pay raise, then I could call that successful if that was something you really wanted. If it was a job you truly enjoyed and you weren’t doing it just to get rich off of it; even though the money would be a plus.

Another reason I disagree with it is putting the story into perspective. Sur is a work of fiction, yes, but no where in the story did the group of women attain wealth, position, or any honors. They kept their goal a secret from the world. They deemed themselves successful because they had achieved something they wanted to do.

Another definition of success by Dictionary.com is: “the accomplishment of one’s goals.” I have to say that I like this definition a whole lot better. However, what exactly is a “goal?” Again, it depends on your own perspective and what you want. My big goal is to become a full-time writer. Yet, there are many little goals along the way.

When I write my standard 2,000 words in one day, I consider that an accomplishment for that one day. When I finish a novel, I consider that to be an achievement. I’ve never completely finished editing a novel enough to throw it at a publisher, but I’m sure when I do that will be successful in itself and I’m sure I will be very happy with it. When I get a novel published for the first time, I will be successful. Will I be a full-time writer after publishing that one novel? No, probably not. However, I will write more and the more I write the better I will become. I will come up with more ideas and become more creative. Eventually I’ll come up with a novel good enough to allow me to stay home all day and do what I love and do best: write.

It won’t matter what position I’m in if I still have a day job and it won’t matter how much money I’ll be bringing in. My goal is to share inspirational characters, interactive plots, and open up a brand new creative world for all my readers to love and enjoy.

And when that day comes, I will be successful.

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Inspiration Station

“You may not want to be a writer and that’s fine. But by the end of this class, you are going to know exactly what a writer does and all the blood, sweat, and tears that get mixed in with the ink.” –Athena Beech

 

Today was a rough day. Kris was home all day because she’s doing the over-night at her work tonight. I also had to go to work because the other teacher and I have been stripping the classrooms. We finished today, thank God. I can’t stand seeing the classrooms so bare. Anyway, because of those two factors I was not able to start writing early in the morning like I have been and with Kris there all I want to do is play video games with her. She got Sonic: Lost World for the Wii U for Christmas and we just started playing it the other day. It’s a great game and I bother her to play it at any moment I get.

So, I came home from work and said, “Wanna play Sonic?!” Kris said something to me that I regret mentioning to her…you see, the other day I wanted to do absolutely nothing. I had a cup of coffee in hand and all I wanted to do was put my feet up and watch Psych. I have been watching that a lot lately, I don’t know why. But season eight starts tomorrow night!

Even though I wanted to do everything humanly possible that did not involve me writing my 5,000 word count, I repeated to myself: Work first, play later. I told Kris this. So, what do you think she said when I asked her to play Sonic? Yes, “Work first, play later.” Thus, we wrote.

Kris wrote a little and then decided to edit her novel (yay!) while I continued to write in order to hit my 5,000 daily word goal. Since I finished Detective Florence I had to write something else. I looked at my To Do List and looked at all the novels from there. I couldn’t choose which one to write, so Kris put them in a randomizer thing on the internet and it told me to write Hunter & Comet.

Well, I wrote an even 2,000 words for that. However, I wasn’t in the mood to write it so I decided to stop because it was turning out kind of crappy…even for the first draft.

I decided to write Inspiration Station instead. This was a story idea I came up with on a whim one night (pretty recently) when I wasn’t sure what to write. At the time I still wasn’t in the mood to finish Detective Florence, I had no idea what to write so I decided to write about writing. I’m pretty sure I’ve explained this novel before, but I’m going to explain it again…

Inspiration Station is about a writer, Athena Beech, who is not yet published because she’s stuck on her writing. As her day job she starts her first semester teaching a creative writing course at a local community college. She has a class full of interesting students. Some are taking the class because they want to write for a living and others are taking it because they believe it to be an “easy A.” Athena takes this as a challenge and comes up with the “Inspiration Station” which is basically a bunch of writing prompts. She hopes to give inspiration to all her students as well as herself.

So, as you probably figured out, the quote up top is from the main character, the teacher, in the story. She said to her class right as they were being dismissed because most of them aren’t too into the class at the moment.

I’m having fun with it. As a teacher, I think it’s fun to write lesson plans and since I’m not a teacher anymore I don’t write lesson plans anymore. So, yes, I am writing actual lesson plans for Athena’s classes. They’re not fully thought-out, mostly just an outline to help me plan the novel, but it’s a lot of fun. I think some of that stuff would be cool to do in a real classroom.

I wrote 3,358 words for the story. Adding that to the 2,000 I wrote for Hunter & Comet, I have 5,358 for today. This also leaves me at 6,500-something total for Inspiration Station so far. I already had about 3,300-something words already written for the story.

I think Inspiration Station is going to be the next novel I complete. I think it’s going to be a good one. I have high hopes for it, anyway.

The Babysitting Adventures of Rachel

It’s Gonna Be A Best-Seller…

Starting back in the summer of 2010, I started babysitting two boys. I only watch them during the summer as both of their parents work while the kids are at school, which is nice. They’re one of the few families that actually have the parents home when the kids are home that I know of.

So this is the third summer I’m watching them. The oldest, Jack, is now 13 and the youngest, Sam, is 11. The oldest has ADD while the youngest has ADD and a touch of Autism. They get along really well, but…you know, they’re brothers. Despite their special needs, Jack is actually capable of being home alone for a few hours and watching his little brother. However, he torments poor Sam half of the time. So instead of actually “babysitting” I get paid to “referee.” And it’s funny because last summer was horrible, but Jack has actually matured with age…for a boy. I honestly don’t think I need to be there. But I love hanging out with the two of them, so why not?

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to talk about what Sam wants me to do. We drove my cousin and her friend to their swimming lesson a few weeks ago. The swim lesson was only a half hour long so we stayed there to watch. Sam had his Nintendo DS and his Pokemon to keep himself company. I planned on playing my game, but I found myself caught up in watching the kids swim. But somehow Sam got a hold of my iPod and was looking at my calendar.

“Camp NoNoWr…what?” Sam stammered to read my July entries.

“Camp NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month.” I laughed at his pronunciation and corrected him.

Of course, Sam has no idea what that is. So I explained the whole thing to him simply. Judging by the look on his face, he wasn’t all that impressed.

“Geez, Rachel…I knew you were a geek, but I didn’t think you were that much of a geek.” he scoffed.

Honestly, I was kind of surprised at how offended I got. Of course I was laughing, but I never really thought writing would be categorized as being a geek. That was certainly the first time I heard that, but I just don’t think Sam knew what to think about it.

“Hey, it’s writing. Writing is my career.” I replied and he stared at me funny. “Well…I want it to be my career. I want to be an author someday…sooner rather than later, I mean. NaNo is something that helps me get closer to that goal.”

From the look on Sam’s face, I now had his attention. And he seemed to understand, too. Yet, he was still confused because he knew I’m going to school to be a teacher and he knows I’m a teacher at a preschool. I explained I went to school for teaching as a day job just in case selling books doesn’t bring in enough money. But I am going to get my Bachelor’s in English. Being with children and writing are two of my favorite things to do. I can easily do both and if writing becomes more of a priority…well, my books are all picture books, middle grade, or young adult. It’s still kid stuff. He nodded an approval at my plan.

Then the wheels in his head began to squeak. Then they moved slowly and before I knew it, the rust was dusted off and the wheels were turning five miles per second.

“The Babysitting Adventures of Rachel!” he exclaimed. “You should write a book all about you and me and all the fun we have together! I bet you it will be a big hit!”

I found this amusing. Sam texts me throughout the school year every once in a while and when the summer nears and his mom and I start planning a schedule for me to babysit, he’s always calling me on the phone super excited. His mom tells me he constantly talks about me and she’s so happy by how much he loves me. If the child is not happy about the babysitter, then there’s an issue somewhere. But I was excited that Sam took an interest in my writing and he was trying to help me out. Although, at first I thought it was just him being 11, but then I realized he was serious.

“You can talk about me and you and Chance!” he continued on and on. “I guess Jack can be in there…maybe you can put Jackie and Katherine in there, too.” Then he whispers: “You know, just to be nice.”

–Let me stop to explain for a moment: Chance is his dog, Jack is his brother (as previously mentioned), Jackie is my cousin (the one who was swimming), and Kat is my other cousin (Jackie’s little sister). Continuing on…–

Then I asked a question I shouldn’t have (but I still thought he was joking): “How long should this book be?”

“Um…100 pages!”

Uh…what? Wow, he really thought this through in the past five minutes, didn’t he? Then he stuck out his hand and I shook it.

“What’s this for?” I asked.

“So I know you’ll definitely do it.”

Well, crap. Now I’m stuck. I have an 11-year-old wanting me to write 100 pages all about our fun together. How was I going to pull this one off? He had to be kidding, right? He was probably going to forget about this whole thing by tomorrow, anyway…right?

After I finished babysitting that day I thought long and hard about our conversation. I began laughing to myself and thought: challenge accepted.

A few days later (yes, he remembered), he told me that he wants it to be 256 pages now. Random number, right? I don’t get it, either. However, I did say challenge accepted, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to write that much about us. All we really do is go in the pool, play with the dog, and play Pokemon. Seriously. I’ll make the story 100-256 pages. No less than 100, no more than 256. But I doubt I’ll get to 256 pages.

I realized that I am probably going to make Sam’s life when I write this book. Of course I’m not going to write it ready for publication, but it helped spark a middle grade series idea (with the help of Kris when I told her this story) that I think I am going to write. And who knows? Maybe it will be the “next big thing.”