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Tony Grist

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Success [Feb. 28th, 2005|09:22 am]
Tony Grist
What constitutes success?

Take my man Stephen Foster. He was America's first professional songwriter. He drank too much and his marriage suffered. His songs are still performed today. He died broke at 37.

He wrote "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair" but his wife had already left him.

Is that success or failure?

Or is the paradigm irrelevant?

I'm thinking about myself, of course.

I've never been cut-throat ambitious. I've written all my life, but never worked particularly hard at getting published. I have publication credits here, there and over yonder, but not what you'd call a career. And do I care? No, not really.

I'm living my life on my own terms. That's what matters to me.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-02-28 01:49 am (UTC)
I'd define that as success.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 02:21 am (UTC)
Thanks.

I've just been reading an article about how high-flying business women struggle to reconcile work and family. The horror, the horror!

And behind it all lay the assumption that it was somehow laudable to want to flog your guts out in the service of some horrid, inhuman corporation.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-02-28 04:32 am (UTC)
It's laudable to be able to do what you want, and what you're good at--and difficult when those are at odds with each other.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 06:03 am (UTC)
It seems to me that people get suckered into chasing the kind of "success" that offers little real satisfaction or fulfilment.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-02-28 06:23 am (UTC)
Sure. But why lay that at the feet of working moms? Being a working mom seems so hard that one would be unlikely to pursue a high-powered career unless one found it fulfilling. I think if you're going to point fingers, working dads or people without children are far more likely to be susceptible to the appeal of "success" that offers little real satisfaction or fulfilment. Because they haven't given birth to the little exemplars of What Really Matters.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 07:06 am (UTC)
Oh yes. I fully agree. It just happened that the article I read was about high-flying working mums. At least they mostly realise what they're missing. It'll be a sign of REAL progress when the working dads start complaining about not having enough time with their families.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2005-02-28 02:43 am (UTC)
Success, to most--at least as I understand it--is derived after the passing of the person in question. Some people, in fact, will give more success points to the man in the pauper's grave than the man in the great marble tomb, simply because the man in the pauper's grave suffered more and suffering equates greatness.

I on the other hand, think you are successful because you have led a life that is solely yours and you have written and cared for people around you who matter. That means a lot. And no matter where you are buried or how this comes to pass or whether people a century from now sing your song, you will have this moment, in which you looked back, around and forward and thought, "huh. Well look at that!"

Look at that, poliphilo! You're awesome. I have only read one of your novels-to-come. But I love it. And I enjoy our discussions. If I was a good singer, I would write a song for you. Alas, I am not. But maybe a story one day, after tea?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 03:45 am (UTC)
Thanks.

An after tea-time story would be nice.
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[User Picture]From: dakegra
2005-02-28 03:27 am (UTC)
I'm living my life on my own terms. That's what matters to me.

If that doesn't qualify as a success, then I don't know what does.

As for the writing, I'd love to read some...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 03:44 am (UTC)
I could email you a novel if you'd be interested.
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[User Picture]From: dakegra
2005-02-28 03:48 am (UTC)
that would be marvellous, thank you.

dakegra @ gmail.com
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 04:03 am (UTC)
I've sent it. Lemme know if it's arrived OK.
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[User Picture]From: hepo
2005-02-28 07:59 am (UTC)
Just nipping in with a quicky question. What type of novel[s] have you written?

HePo
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 08:07 am (UTC)
The most recent is the easiest to classify. It's a straightforward medieval adventure story. The others are present-day realist narratives, but all with elements of magic and the supernatural.
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[User Picture]From: punrufie
2005-02-28 03:46 am (UTC)

Odd but I just had this conversation yesterday...

The paradigm is not irrelevant, but it's a personal and highly subjective litle beast.

Me, I have had an astoundingly successful life by my own terms; much to the amazement of others who can't quite figured out how somone with such a lackadaisical and come-what-may attitude could have such brilliant "luck". I don't work overly hard to get anywhere, to do anything, or to be anyone, but I constantly fall into situations where opportunities present themselves.

My opinion is that some people just try too hard to be perfect, to be the best, the biggest, the grandest...etc. My advice to relax is met with accusations of idealism and a lack of understanding about how the real world works on my part. I can't say who is right or wrong, or even if a right and wrong exist in this case, but I am curious to see who comes out feeling more fulfilled in the end.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 04:07 am (UTC)

Re: Odd but I just had this conversation yesterday...

"fulfilled" is a key word.

I wasn't always so relaxed about success, but even when I wasn't relaxed I never worked that hard at making things happen. My philosophy is to go with the flow- and I don't think it's ever let me down.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-02-28 06:09 am (UTC)
When Kate searched for our Shaw geneology records, I realized that the only item of real interest in all those hundreds of years of lives was that one of our relatives lived on a hill with a wife and two bears.

Success for me isn't what one does, it's who one becomes.

You are thoughtful, supportive, and engaged with ideas. And the fact that you are a wonderful writer means less to me than seeing how much you honor and care for Ailz.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 06:25 am (UTC)
Thank you.

"Success for me isn't what one does, it's who one becomes."

Yes that's it. Who was it who called the world "a vale of soul-making"?
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From: sunfell
2005-02-28 06:18 am (UTC)
My dad was nagging me last week about going back to school and getting an advanced degree and gunning for my boss's job. He considers me a 'failure' because I haven't advanced, and don't want to.

And he's right. At least about not wanting to get into the rat-race. He doesn't seem to understand that I am perfectly content doing what I am doing, working with the responsibilites I currently have, and am not interested in taking on a greater burden. Being 'boss' means getting a Blackberry that will reel me in at all hours, being subjected to pressure all around me, and stuff that I am not up to putting up with.

I chose not to marry because I didn't want that kind of pressure, and I chose not to have children for the same reason. I need a lot of 'me' time. I might not be making a six-figure salary (hell, I am barely above 'poverty level'), but I do well enough to make ends meet, and am slowly improving my lot. I started out ten years ago with pretty much nothing. I now have a car, some hand-me-down furniture (which I am gradually replacing with my own stuff), and a shrinking debt load. In three years, I'll be out of debt and eligible (I hope) to buy my first home. To me, that is success.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 06:33 am (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes!

My father was disappointed in me because I chose not to pursue a career. But, like you, I'm happy with what I have and with the freedom that comes from not needing to be "successful".

And it means a great deal not to have to call anybody "sir".
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[User Picture]From: hepo
2005-02-28 08:52 am (UTC)
Success has many faces and all of them content.

HePo
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-28 09:07 am (UTC)
But sometimes what people think of as success can be anything but...

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson
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