What is a Failure? Who is a Success?

Success or failure depends not only on the goal, my friends, but also upon one’s perspective.  I know a family of very modest means.  The father, many times feels a failure of his life.
…has supported his family and not only keeps a full time job, but also runs a small window washing business with one employee.
…has managed to get two children through college without student loans.  They too have worked, but support and practical assistance was always there.
…has a house with two bathrooms, a piano, and is not located in a slum.
…has a wife that bakes, works occasionally as a substitute teacher and a couple of days a week when she likes as a bookkeeper.
…writes and performs music for love and money.
…has no family in jail or prison or rehab.
…has no family member suffering from lack of dental or other medical care.
…has made sure his family members always have a ride to where they need to be and usually they have a vehicle at their disposal.
…has no debt except his modest mortgage.

This family does not lead a charmed life without traffic accidents or broken bones, nor does it gain from legacies from deceased family members more than the odd bent fork or chipped plate.

Why does he feel he’s a failure? Because he doesn’t have a degree in a profession.

Is he a failure? Not from where I sit.  I see a man who is a poster child for success and a well-lived life.  He dines very well, his clothing is snappy, his house is well kept, his children are happy with jobs and live in their own homes. His wife is content with her activities, using her income to buy books, craft supplies, the occasional lunch with friends, and pretty well what her modest heart desires.

Am I a failure?  Is the fact I wrote almost a negative number on my novels last year making me a failure as a writer? Well, I thought so, until I realized that I have actually completed two novels and half of another. I have more story ideas to fill out other novels. I have completed two self help books of modest size.  There have been kind things said about my work.

Recently, novel number one, “The Proving Zone: Tory’s Story” was sent to a reviewer to be written to be included in a database for possible movie selection.  The review went horribly wrong.


Review quote, “It (The Proving Zone: Tory’s Story) is a homage to and blatant mixture of “Children of Men,” “The Hunger Games,” and “Battle Royale.” However, even though these comparisons were all fresh ideas and successful films, I question the originality of this story. It is one thing to add to the teenage drama phenomena, but it is quite another to rip off the concepts of other stories without introducing new and exciting elements.”

Then I realized that although my work had been utterly trashed and I had been skewered as a plagiarist of the worst kind, that I had actually been complimented, as the films mentioned were quite popular.  I have yet to see them or read the works that spawned them and I’d like to add, I WROTE MINE before those came out! Evidently the reviewer neglected to look at the copyright date….

So, in the eyes of one reviewer, I’m a failure. But, in my eyes, I have renewed confidence. Success or failure is a matter of perspective. Whether one or the other or neither,

I am a novelist.

Nina Sipes

Who writes occasionally as Blatant Appeal, Skippy Riedel, and a host of other alter-egos….


Nina Sipes said...

Just to be clear. I wrote this blog and set it up to post whilst I was gone on a three week drive-about with DH. I do hope other things put on automatic worked better....

I think I'd better get off and check to see how my auto bill paying went...

Joan Vincent said...

Failure and success are kind of like the glass half full or half empty view of life--it is totally a matter of perspective. I was thrilled when I saw I finally got a review of Debt on Amazon and them read it. The three stars made me sigh but the "it's tedious . . . disappointed in this one" made me wonder what the reviewer had read. Again, perspective. I'm glad you share yours with us!