Friday, April 15, 2011

Indicators Of Success

 Note: Today, various members of the First Wild Card Blog Reviews will be reviewing Diagnosis Death. Too many sites to list, but let me know if you run across one of them. And thanks to all of you who've already read and reviewed this third novel of mine, whether on your blog or at the site of your favorite book-seller. I appreciate it.

When I was practicing medicine, I had a question I asked every patient before undertaking anything that demanded a significant commitment on their part and mine. It could have been scheduling a surgical procedure, committing to a regimen of allergy testing and treatment, or even a prolonged course of medication. I asked, "What is your indicator of success?" And if they answered with something unrealistic, we had a long and frank talk before proceeding. I always had an indicator of success in mind, and I wanted theirs to be the same.

I thought about this the other day as I received the first copies of my third published novel, Diagnosis Death. I first started to write because I wanted to share with the world the things I'd learned after the death of my first wife. The result was a book that has continued to minister to people who've suffered such a loss. It's been a great comfort to me to see continued sales of The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. And frankly, getting it published was a definite indicator of success.

But along the way, as I worked to learn the craft of writing, I was encouraged to try my hand at fiction. I won't detail all my struggles, but let's just say I had my share of discouragement. Then, through a series of circumstances that were nothing less than providential, I received a contract for my first novel. At that point, I suppose my indicator of success was to have that novel see the light of day, and it did. Code Blue was published just about a year ago, followed six months later by Medical Error. The reviews were good, sales were reasonable, and there was no question I'd achieved about all I could have asked for, considering where I'd started.

No, I don't have the sales figures of a JK Rowling or a Tom Clancy. I'm not making a ton of money in royalties. But I am doing one thing, and it's become my true indicator of success as a writer. I'm writing Christian fiction, novels that portray how God interacts in the lives of men and women. Although there's no hard-sell of Christianity or religion in the books, I like to think that when a reader closes one of my novels, they're thinking about God and his effect on their lives. If they do, I've succeeded. That's my indicator of success.

Writers, what's yours?


Katie Ganshert said...

That's a great question. One I need to be thinking about in the days to come. I think the indicator, for me, keeps changing. First, it was finding an agent. Then, it turned into getting a contract. Now my book is going to be published (two of them). So what is my indicator of success? I'd love my success indicator to be seeing others (no matter how few or how many) uplifted by my stories.

Richard Mabry said...

Katie, Thanks for your comment. We all find our indicators changing as our life evolves. Congratulations on achieving this stage in your writing journey.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I agree with Katie. Seeing my work help others in some way would be the biggest reward.

Good question! It's always stabilizing to keep our eyes on the goal.

CandaceCalvert said...

(As I suspected)You and I share not only a readership, but a definition of success. Your work is a blessing, Dr. Mabry. Thank you for an immense measure of accomplishment--for all the right reasons.

CandaceCalvert said...

Oh, I meant to add a sincere welcome to your readers: pop over to my blog for a chance at winning one of three awesome medical mysteries by Dr. Richard Mabry:

Richard Mabry said...

Rosslyn, good to know my writer friends have a similar indicator of success.
Candace, thanks for kind words and for your friendship. And it was an honor to "cover your shift" with my recent post on your blog.