Thursday, June 04, 2009

How To Measure Success

By Nichole Giles

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky to attend a sci-fi/fantasy CONduit, during which I listened to an address by Howard Taylor, artist/ author of the web comic Schlock Mercenary.

Howard’s address in a sentence: Hard work takes time.

Howard’s address in another sentence: Don’t let fear of failure stop you from trying.

Third sentence: Practice and experience lead to optimal performance. (And by Howard’s calculations, you’ll need to “practice” for approximately a million words and a minimum of ten years.)

His speech reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks prior to this CON. She said, “I continue to be amazed by your ability to create and construct an entire story from beginning to end. It isn’t a common thing, no matter how many authors you know.”

And she’s right. Of course, she’s right. The ability to follow a creation through is huge. Just the idea of starting a new project like a book can often be intimidating. But finishing is a true measure of success. Even if that particular book is never published, we have successfully completed a monumental task simply by finishing it. There’s something to be said for that.

By writing a full manuscript, we jump into a small percentage of authors and wanna-be writers. Think about those who start new books all the time, or who claim to be planning to write a book, or building a world—but never actually finish the project. Those of us who finish, actually, truly finish, are unique.

So, if you have a completed manuscript, no matter how bad you think it is, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve already succeeded.


David J. West said...

Very True Nichole. I would say I have about 4 books completed and probably at least 50 (I don't know for sure) first chapters.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm sending a back pat your way, Nichole. Way to go!

Nichole Giles said...

You know, David, those first chapters are valuable also, but only if you take the time to complete the story.

I think writing first chapters is so fun, but once that first chapter is finished, the rest becomes a challenge. Finishing a story to completion is a true measure of success. Congrats on finishing four! That's wonderful news.

Thanks for the pat, L.T.