OK. Pick 3:
- be fabulously wealthy
- become a household name
- marry a supermodel
- become the boss of the company
- create your own company
- have kids
- act on Broadway
- Have hundreds of people attend your funeral
- pass the million followers mark on Twitter
- own your own house
- get published
- fill your passport with stamps
- get married
- be known in your field
- have lived in over a dozen countries
- reach old age
- own the sports car
- have a YouTube clip go viral…
Which of these three things mean Success to you? I’ve always wanted to be successful, but when I decided to make it a focus in Finding Damo, I found that I had to actually think about what that meant.
The book’s not finished yet. I’m not done thinking. But a few things have become blatantly clear:
1. Success is fluid.
2. Success is elusive
3. You should never be able to achieve it.
4. It is very different for everyone I’ve talked to.
At the age of 20, working in a shocking job, but earning real money for the first time, my ambitions were simple: the house, a wife, three kids and a string of successful novels and computer games based around characters Dave and I invented.
At 26, working at Racing Victoria and headed for a semi-successful IT career, I went to a psychic. She told me that somewhere around 30 I would get married to a girl with long blonde hair, tied at the back with a red ribbon. We’d have two kids and I’d write a novel which would be published after a chance meeting with an overseas investor. That all sounded pretty good, although I’ve never had a thing for blondes.* Then I went to Japan, had a year where I could write for four hours a day, and got to meet all sorts of foreign people – none of whom have bought my book.
At 33 I was living in Dromana, living the beach life. I was unmarried, unpublished, still renting, and had no kids that I knew about. My younger siblings both had all of this. My first novel was in editing limbo, I was building up a collection of “this is great, but it doesn’t quite fit” rejection slips on my short stories.
It sounds grim, put like that. None of the things at which I wanted to “succeed” were eventuating. But I was happy. Living by the beach, acting and directing in local theatre and very happy at school. The house and the kids seemed like less of an issue, compared to the fame and the sunny beachy days. I was getting ready to travel again. Lots of plans. My idea of Success at that stage could have twisted off down two very different legs of the trousers of time.
Have you seen Sliding Doors? Imagine that with even more Monty Python references.
Funnily enough, it was then that I met a girl – completely uninterested in a domestic lifestyle – who cemented my concept of success as “wife, kids, house”. She already had a house and wasn’t interested in marriage or kids – and that made me realise that they were things I couldn’t live without.
And now, I’m living the trifecta all in one year. Well, two out of three aint bad**. Now all I need is the fame and fortune.
That’s my success. I’ll get back to you on success for other people.
* Except Scarlett Johanssen, and who wouldn’t?
** Pratchett points out that, actually, it isn’t great. It’s only 66%.