Monday, December 12, 2005

Success Redefined

When our youngest child was in second grade, we moved to a small Colorado town. The first day, even before we d gotten the house unpacked, I headed for the library. Over the next three months, I spent four to eight hours a day in that threadbare space, reading every word I could find on non-fiction article writing.

Until then, all I d known was that I loved to read magazines. I devoured them the way some people overdose on chocolate. I d also been told since high school, like millions of other kids, that I had some writing talent. My dream then, was to write for the seven sisters magazines.

Until I d spent days in the Gunnison library, I d never heard of a query letter; didn t know the difference between First NA Serial Rights and human rights. I didn t personally know any magazine writers or anything about the process. I was surprised by the statistics about how many people wanted to write for magazines versus how many actually succeeded. But I assumed those figures didn t apply to me. I read, I studied, I thought, I processed and after three months, I began to write.

I sent off my first article to Guideposts magazine and began an intimate relationship with our mail box. When I wasn t rushing down the stairs to peer inside for the hundredth time each day, I surveyed the street like a hawk watches a chicken to make sure I didn t miss the mail man. One day he delivered the envelope into my sweaty hands.

Guideposts not only accepted the article, they claimed to love it. A few months after publication, the piece was picked up by Reader s Digest. (It wasn t until later that I realized what I had given up. My library education didn t include reading about the repercussions of work for hire agreements. But even had I been a rights expert, that acceptance appeared magical, the first step on my way to the realization of a dream. Its power outweighed any logic.)

Also during that year, I managed to snag a weekly humor column in the local paper. My payment was a $10 gift certificate for the local bakery.

I thought I had it figured out, I d become a national humor columnist as well as a successful writer for top-flight magazines. It all seemed too easy. And it was.

Something happened after that first flush. I discovered that if I wanted to write for the big guys, I had to act like a big guy. I had to put up with being treated poorly, if not down right patronized. I had to accept the fact that because I was being paid big bucks, I was supposed to behave like a supplicant glad for any crumb. If it took a year or more to publish a piece, how dare I complain? Editors changed four times before an article was published, and the fifth dumps the piece? Par for the course. Payment takes six times as long as they claim it will? Well, at least I m getting paid (relatively) large sums.

Somewhere in that first year, it became clear to me that I was not happy with this scenario. I wasn t seeking fame or even fortune. I just wanted to write the kinds of stories I enjoyed, work with people I respected and I realized that I wanted to be appreciated. So I changed my definition of success. I gave up sending queries to the big guys and I became a reliable writer for the trades. I wrote for everything from the pharmaceuticals and optical markets to fashion and computers. I usually got paid on time, but best of all, the editors liked my work and valued me. We worked as partners and the stories I wrote reflected who I was. I flourished. Occasionally I submitted a tidbit to the biggies, but I no longer hungered for their favor. I didn t need them.

Today, I m a life coach, not a freelancer, but I am finding success in the same way I did as a writer. When I started out, I wanted to be a great coach, someone others would want to emulate. I thought that if I were, I could most successfully spread the word about what a great opportunity coaching presents to people who are ready to make changes in their lives. But now that I ve done it for awhile, I realize how much I love coaching individuals, how meaningful it is for me as well as my clients. In this way, success is not about reaching a goal, but about what I do every day. I still want to get the word out, but I m not paying for the future by giving up today.

For some people, it takes a major life event, such as a sudden illness, to help them realize the importance of loving the work you choose while you re doing it. For me, it s always been about checking in with myself to see whether the goal is obscuring my life. Each time I have redefined success, I have simply become happier.

Sometimes my clients try too hard to follow the rules. They take the prescribed route, do all the work, everything that is expected and yet, the success they seek eludes them. I suggest that one reason could be that they listen too closely to the gurus and not closely enough to themselves.

What is it you want? What is your definition of success as a writer? How will you know when you get there?

Begin to wonder about your level of enjoyment as you pursue your dream. What would happen if you never reached the level of success you crave? Would the journey there be worth the failure? Too many of us assume we have to be miserable in order to be happy, that banging our heads against a brick wall will be worth it in the end because we are bound to be successful if we try hard enough. But sometimes, it is better (and a lot less painful) to re-think success, because the reality is, no matter how much head banging we do, sometimes trying hard just isn t enough. Even worse, we live so solemnly that the pursuit drains us of life.

Why not give yourself a gift this holiday season. Vow to enjoy the process. Figure out how to write the kinds of articles or books or whatever, that you crave. Your work every single day should fill you up, make you glad to be alive, filled with excitement and thanksgiving that you are here and doing it. If it feels like drudgery or you don t like the people you are dealing with, it s time to take a good hard look and find a way to make it joyful.

May the new year find you loving your journey as much as I love mine.

About The Author

You may freely distribute the article as long as it carries the following notice: Copyright 2004 Lynn Colwell

Lynn Colwell is a life/personal coach and writer. After a career including public relations and corporate communications with hospitals and high tech companies, she decided to devote herself to making a difference in people s lives. Her complimentary online newsletter has been called, An inspiring, exciting, fun, pick-me-up. Sign up for the newsletter or contact Lynn at

Post Colonial Studies

Postcolonialism has been defined as:

  • A description of institutional conditions in formerly colonial societies.

  • An abstract condition of the global condition after the colonial period.

  • A description of discourses informed by psychological and epistemological orientations.

  • the social, political, economic, and cultural practices which arise in response and resistance to colonialism.

  • This corresponds ' definition of postcolonial literature as, "an always present tendency in any literature of subjugation marked by a systematic process of cultural domination through the imposition of imperial structures of power," which as they point out implies that postcolonialism is "already implicit in the discourses of colonialism".

Postcolonialism, like other post-isms, does not signal a closing off of that which it contains (colonialism), or even a rejection (which would not be possible in any case), but rather an opening of a field of inquiry and understanding following a period of relative closure. Colonialism is an event which can be identified, given an historical definition, through its effects and characteristics as they reveal themselves in a given nation, among different cultural and social groupings.

Such writings as Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism (1993) discuss discourse analysis and postcolonial theory as tools for rethinking forms of knowledge and the social identities of colonial systems. As a result these tools can be applied to the recognition of modernism and modernity as part of may be called the colonial project of domination.

Debates on Postcolonialism are unresolved, yet issues raised in Said's book Orientalism (1978) critique Western descriptions which produce essential representations of Non-Euro-American others, because colonialism as a discourse is based on the ability of Western to enter, examine another culture, produce knowledge, and use that power against those countries.

Post colonial studies , over the last decade has been emerged both as

  • A meeting point

  • A background for verity of disciplines.

Post colonialism has been seen as a 'decisive, temporal marker of the decolonizing process'. But the fundamental to it is the concept that Gayatri Chakrabarty Spivak had rised in 1985. in that year she threw a challenge to the race and blindness of the Western academy, asking "Can the subaltern speak?" her question was followed by the work by a collective intellectuals of 1980, now known as subaltern Studies group. Spivak raised the question to highlight that there exists a complicated relationship between the historian and the unknowing subjects of subaltern histories – which is very much fundamental to post-colonial studies as well as all subaltern and feministic studies.

After 1970's and 1980's , the new literature that emerged from the Commonwealth, has shattered the notions of 'centre' and 'periphery' on which post-colonial studies is (mistakenly) founded. If all nations at some point come under the sway of British E\imperialism are seen as post-colonial, then this term no longer does much useful distinguishing work.

After 1980's , the literary and cultural relativitism has shattered the "logo centric concept" of British or Western literature. Thus, there is no "centre" that can sustain post colonial studies, hence3 post colonialism has lost its meaning.

However the major points of the post colonial studies can be summarized roughly as under:

  • Post colonial aftermath: the post colonial aftermath is marked by the range of ambivalent cultural moods. This is what described by Albert Memi, Tunisian anti-colonial revolutionary and intellectual as a vision of a new world that will "magically emerge from the ruins of the colonialism". To this he adds that the aftermath is inevitably underestimates the psychological hold of the colonial past. For Edward said, this aftermath is the "dreadful secondariness".

  • Homi K. Bhabha and the role of memory: Bhabha believes that memory is necessary bridge between colonialism and question of one's cultural identity. Hence remembering is more than retrospection and is a painful 're-membering' of the 'dismembered past' of colonial history and this is a part of the identity that one bears in a post colonial era.

  • Culture and post colonial literature: The understanding of post-colonialism as a means largely for the descendents of the settler groups in the colonial-imperial process to claim authenticity and autonomy and purge the guilt of empire as a process which altered pre-modern civilization. This is attempted by firstly, separating themselves from the 'original' culture; and secondly, by increasing understanding their empire as a muted and ambiguous legacy among nations, ethnic groups and selves engaged in the culture of imperialism. Given this reading, post-colonial literature can be seen as a transitory phase of the wider cultural condition of the legacy of imperialism.

© Samir K. Dash, 2004

About The Author

Samir K. Dash is a UGC-NET qualified, MA (English) from Ravenshaw (auto) College, Cuttack, Orissa (India).

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