Who Defines Success in Art?

I’m about done writing on this topic. By now you should know where I stand, though I’ve gathered the attention of many and attracted the explaining voice of a number. Really, it’s a good question because if it goes unanswered in the breast of an artist, it gives rise to turmoil, struggle and, yes, quite often and ultimately, the answer.

Desperate to know, I asked Santa Claus last December on the Cedar Street Bridge. Sadly, he didn't know.

Desperate to know, I asked Santa Claus last December on the Cedar Street Bridge. Sadly, he didn’t know.

So I Went To A Successful Writer

You can understand I hope that if Santa didn’t know, I knew I was on the right track. I had to find someone with the answer. It plagues me at night, stresses me by day.

Finally, I turned to my good friend, Dan Strawn, a writer who has enjoyed (and is enjoying) considerable success with his very fine WWII-period novel, Isaac’s Gun. Strawn had this to say about my post, Why Some Writers Succeed, Other Do Not.

“Well said, Dwayne,” he wrote in a recent email. “I just had a similar discussion with my grand daughter, whose step-dad just got a major role in a Southern California production company’s version of Les Mis. He’s super talented, works hard, even makes his living with music.

“Has success passed him by because he isn’t performing on Broadway?

“The answer is yes ONLY IF he allows appearing on Broadway as the only version of success.

“I don’t think that’s the case for him. I think for him success lies in the present moment–an appreciative audience, one that provides him yet another opportunity to refine his skill.

What’s the lesson here?

“Success is an iterative event for the artist lost in the process.”

See Also: Why Do Some Writers Stand-Out, Others Do Not? and Dan Strawn Wins Idaho Mag Short Story Award and What Inspires an Artist?