Success! Is it what it’s all cracked up to be?

by Stephen Buehler

Reduced head shot

In my last post I wrote about a magic show that I was going to perform that night. Here’s the result: the show went extremely well. People laughed where they were supposed to and were filled with wonder at the right places too. I received many compliments from friends and strangers. As planned, the story I incorporated in the show, which was – a magician boosts that he will show the audience the greatest trick ever. He performs several good tricks. Along the way the audience has a fun time but are not overwhelmed by the magic. At the end, he takes a survey from random audience members about the performer’s name, (Stefan the Awesome) the quality of his performance (Outstanding) and fair compensation ($10). He shows that he predicted all three answers ahead of time and that becomes the greatest trick ever. This story translated well and I achieved what I set out to do. SUCCESS!

Stefan - nwsp restored - cropped

Now what? I didn’t get any jobs from my performance. People were entertained for ½ hour but now what?  What does it get me? A day of feeling good? Then what?

When I dreamt of being successful, I believed that I would have made it.! All my problems would be behind me. I think a lot of aspiring writers feel that too. Once they publish or sell a book it will a cakewalk. All the doors are open to you and you’ll be living in easyville.

It took me some time to figure out that success is just a moment. It doesn’t last forever. You’ve achieved a certain goal, for me it was putting on a good magic show. Now it’s time to move on and create new goals in hopes of achieving success again. Success is a fleeting feeling. But it’s a good one.

Stefan - Vortex 2000

How do you feel about success? Do you enjoy it? Do you savor it?

Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. His story, Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and was a Derringer Finalist. A Job’s a Job was published in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology. His is seeking a home for his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician, psychics and of course, murder. He is also currently shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. By day he is also a script/story consultant, magician and a nice guy.

18 thoughts on “Success! Is it what it’s all cracked up to be?

  1. I like the idea of many small successes. I believe I once thought, after my first book, success would come — I’d make money and make a difference. Now, I look at ‘making a difference’ as being successful, and I always look forward to the next book and the doors that will open that may not have opened if I didn’t write it. Success is not financial (though that would be nice!) but it’s making a difference, encouraging others, and feeling good about what I do. On to the next success!


  2. A great topic, Stephen. When I was young, yes, I thought the same thing – big dreams! I wasn’t even sure what that was yet – whether it was a prima ballerina, A-list Hollywood screenwriter, or a NY Times bestselling author. Whatever it was, I’d be famous! Then as I got older, reality hit. Now I find success in the little things, like a flash fiction piece gets picked up or a short story is accepted. Or when someone I don’t know reads something that I wrote and says they really enjoyed it, then that to me is success. That little lift or adrenaline rush. Yes, it’s fleeting and small, but it’s great when it happens so I make sure to enjoy it while I can. And every now and then an unexpected big success hits and it’s such a nice surprise.


    1. Sarah,
      It takes awareness to see all the success around oneself. Sometimes I get focused on just one thing and don’t see the other levels of success. Like having a flash fiction published, I feel like a success because it was published but I’m not looking at the fact that people are reading it and enjoying it, that I have another notch on my credit list and my name is out there more in the writing world.
      Thanks for reading and responding.
      – Stephen

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting take on success, Stephen, and congratulations on the performance.

    I believe each person defines their own success. What one person believes is success is failure to another. Thanks for introducing the topic, and I’ve enjoyed the comments that others have offered. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never gave much thought to success. I basically wanted to be a wife and a mother, fleetingly a teacher, and that’s about it. I married, raised two children, have 4 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. I ended up teaching Sunday School, and other life altering classes to people. My children raised their children in church, and to server the Lord, and my grandchildren are raising their children that way. In my belief this ensures a good life in eternity for them, and to me, that means I have been extremely successful. Oh yes, then there is my husband, I could not have asked for a more perfect mate. He is wonderful. I have had, and still have many rewards from my family and friends. My next biggest reward will be when one of those little ones look up at me and says, “Grammy, I love you.” Also our youngest grandchild, my only granddaughter (until the Grands), will graduate this year. One of my hopes was to see all of my grandchildren graduate and begin their lives as adults, that goal is very close. She will graduate from high school, and from college (an Associates Degree), this coming spring.

    My art, and my writing are the cherries on top of a sweet desert. My work-driving an 18 wheeler has also been a blessing in the sights I have seen and the people I have met.

    Life has not been easy, in fact there are times when I wondered if I would achieve anything. There were some very hard times financially, spiritually, and physically, but we just kept doing the best we could. I kept the finish line in sight.

    Thanks for this blog, and sorry about the long comment. Cher’ley


  5. Thought provoking post for me. When I was young and idealistic, I wanted to “do good things for the world” – be an inspiring teacher, a great mother, be of service. I didn’t equate these things with “success.” I guess success meant recognition to me – a very limited definition. Of course, achieving what you’ve set out to do is success. I actually have achieved a lot but it never felt like it. I always focused on what wasn’t perfect, the small failures. I wasn’t allowed to feel good about myself.

    I’m much better about that now. I can enjoy my successes and look forward to having more.


  6. I agree, Stephen, that it’s hard to move on from that ‘fleeting success’ moment but you’re right in that there’s a whole long pathway to becoming famous- if that’s what an author /performer is aiming for. Build on success and make more ‘feel good’ moments is advice I often read, and I think that’s the positive thing to do. Savoring is great, too….


  7. Success is certainly fleeting and I think we all gauge it differently. For me at a book signing a sale is a bit of success. At a presentation seeing someone’s interest in wildlife grow is success. In the field getting close enough to look my subject in the eyes is real success, even if the photo doesn’t sell. So for me it isn’t necessarily about money or fame, its more about the experiences.


  8. I’ve had and still have dreams of success. I’ve had a few moments of glory that were fleeting and ephemeral. Ego was boosted for a moment, but then it everything leveled off again, returning to normal. I think restless spirits end up unsatisfied regardless of success. It can be a curse, but it can also cause people to reach higher and further than would have been expected of them.


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