How do you measure success?

My first novel published nearly six months ago. Since that time, I find myself checking my numbers on Amazon, obsessed with making sure the book is selling.

A few days ago, I received a message on Facebook from a former drama student of mine. This young man came to me when he was in the 8th grade. I noticed immediately that there was something different about him. I soon came to find out that he had Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. His social graces were sorely lacking, making it difficult for a kid his age to fit in.

This was the first year that I went from being a substitute teacher to a drama teacher, and I was flying by the seat of my pants. The drama department of this small private school was relatively new, and that year I was given the middle school students to teach. Learning to deal with this young man’s issues took some doing. One thing I can say about this boy is that he was one of the most dedicated and intelligent students I had that year, and the years that followed.

As time progressed, I wound up teaching k-5 through 12th grade. Students came and went, but this young man was one of a handful who remained in my class until he graduated.

In his note, he told me that he had an idea for a script based on the first skit I wrote that he was in. He knew in the 8th grade that he wanted to be an actor/director/writer, but that it was my creativity that inspired him to embrace his dream. He went on to say how I had inspired him and how grateful he was that God put me in his life. I won’t share all of his message, but suffice it to say he touched my heart in a way it hasn’t been touched in a very long time.

My teaching years are over, while my years as a novelist are just beginning. Since receiving this young man’s note, my numbers don’t seem quite as important. I may never make it as a bestselling author, few do, but reading that sweet note made me realize what true success is.


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