Thane and I were talking in the hot tub the other night (sometimes I think the only conversations we have which aren't distracted by electronics and chores are in the hot tub) about success and the different ways success can be defined. The conversation was prompted by an interview I'd read in the most recent Quilting Arts magazine with Jill Rumoshosky Werner about her work. One of the questions asked her to discuss what she found to be indispensable to her work. She answered her husband, because without him the bills wouldn't get paid and she wouldn't eat.
Now, this artist creates large three-dimensional quilted conceptual art pieces that are displayed in galleries and museums. Her work is often intended to make a statement on social and political issues. They are not the type of thing I would consider to be home-friendly, so I don't know how many sales she actually makes. I assume, however, from her comment about relying on her husband's salary in order to have the time and ability to be an artist that she doesn't sell enough to make a living.
So, anyway, I was telling Thane about this interview and her comment about her husband, and suggested that monetary gain was not the only means of defining success. I've often felt that his definition of success for me as an artist or writer is primarily monetary. I know, however, how very unlikely it is that I'll ever make a living from my creative work, and I've had a hard time reconciling his attitude with my needs.
He said that his attitudes have changed over the years and that he's lost some of his Puritan work ethic. He also said that he thought what I wanted was attention. I didn't disagree, but chose to say that what I really want (not that I'd mind piles of money) is respect. I'd like to someday be recognized for my work and have others think that I'm wonderful (Mom, I love you, but in this regard your opinion doesn't count).
I realize that I have a long way to go before I can garner the kind of respect I'd like to earn. I need to work a lot harder, be more productive, and focus on creating from my own imagination and ideas. I also need to learn to market myself - not only for sales, but also for exposure. I need to get my work out there for the world to see.
I need to convince my husband to support me while I do all of this. He's starting to come around to my way of thinking, but we're not quite there yet. Soon, I hope.
So, how do you define success for yourself? There are innumerable ways: taking care of your family, earning a living income, being rich, making all your Christmas gifts, and on and on. I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments, please.