Is Success Really All About Your Name?
I didn’t want to believe it.
I want to believe talent speaks for itself, but last week I read a story on CNN about J.K. Rowling’s new book The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she published under a pseudo name to separate her identity with her writing talent. She wanted to know if her talent could stand on its own. The Cuckoo’s Calling received decent reviews and made mediocre sales until Rowling confessed that yes, she was the author—suddenly everyone wanted a copy of the book.
This wasn’t the first time I learned an author tested the publishing and agenting waters. Years ago, author Chuck Ross implemented a similar experiment after receiving countless rejections for his finished novel. He retyped a current best seller in 1969 and submitted it as an Untitledwork to prove my initial question correct—indeed, your name does matter when he received 14 publishing rejections and 13 agent rejections.
I started to think, if this is true, how does anyone at the bottom ever succeed? What is the secret behind success when you don’t have a name anyone currently cares about?
I found comfort and hope in a few great articles. My favorite one came from passionforliving.com, talked in length about Henry Ford’s rising fame and entrepreneur attitude with the design of the 8-cylinder engine. And here’s a few thoughts:
TRY, once, twice, you just don’t stop
When you’re working toward success, many obstacles will stand in your way. You might think, this is hopeless, what am I doing? How will I ever make it over this hurdle? In Henry Ford’s case, being the entrepreneur with a really big dream, he would not let his team accept defeat. It’s possible. Keep going. And they spent a whole year with his words coaching them right along—the 8-cylinder engine exists. Ford, refused to stop trying.
TAKE IT—Success that is
The one question I find myself asking is, if I really want this one big dream, what’s stopping me? ME. That’s why I get up every morning at 4:30 a.m. and I write. That’s why I reach out and I take workshops, and I meet with other writers, and I constantly see what’s working in the industry. I work every day, and I get better every day. Maybe one door closes, but I turn around and I push through another door. The most important thing I’ve learned, there is always something to learn, and I have to be willing to change my thoughts.
Many GIVE UP When you’re practically staring it in the face—Don’t
Have you ever faced a problem where you struggled along, you made it through almost to the end, breaking down the formula or the problem, thinking you had it? But then the numbers just didn’t match up and you quit. Someone else glanced over your shoulder, took over the problem and they got it? A great example is Apple Computer and Steve Jobs. The company headed downward, But Steve Jobs rescued it. He refused to accept the defeat and look where Apple is. I-phones, I-computers—I admit, I really want one, but I couldn’t have that dream if Mr. Jobs, lost his fire and let the company slip away.
Lastly, REACH OUT for help—this one is mine
I’ve talked at length about my fight with wanting to figure out questions I face, all on my own. It’s true. But what really got me moving and succeeding, was humbleness. When I learned to swallow the pride of not knowing, asking simple questions and throwing myself out there, I saw real progress. And then, what really mattered, was what I did with their feedback, like changing the direction of a character in my story as sound advice I received from an agent in a writing workshop. I didn’t want to change him. But I mulled the idea over. The adjustment would require my entire story to be rewritten. I swallowed the lump in my throat down, and I did it.
I admit, I’m not always right. No one is, and once I let go of the personal attachment to my stuff, I realized what I wanted most. I want to reach others. I want my words to make just as much sense to the world as it does in my head, and the only way I can do that is to accept feedback, make changes, and believe, my dreams and writing are better because of it.
I hope you have a lovely Monday…