Monday, August 13, 2012


 I’m still fighting a stomach bug so I am reprising an article written for me, a couple years ago, by a friend of mine, Ken Coffman.  I have a lot of respect for Ken and what he’s accomplished. Ken is both author and a publisher. I love his attitude when it comes to going for what he wants. I really liked the straight foreword tone of this article. I thought you might enjoy reading it, too.

80% of success is showing up.
- Woody Allen

What is the right percentage? 80% of success is showing up? I’ve heard 90%, 95%, and even 100%. Let’s not quibble, my friends. Some high percentage of success comes from showing up. But, what the hell does that mean?

I feel like I understand the concept and it doesn’t mean success is easy. Showing up sounds easy, so what’s going on? Let’s suppose you’re sitting in a room with one hundred other people. If you have a question, the physical effort of raising your hand is nothing. You lift that heavy hand hundreds of times a day. But the courage to take the chance, to draw attention to yourself, to risk asking the stupidest question ever asked…that takes courage. Grit. Guts. In this case you gotta show up by raising that heavy hand.

Patrick Moraz today From his website
Let me illustrate with an example from my life. Every few years when I can afford it and the mood strikes me, I will act as concert promoter. A while back, I booked a show with Patrick Moraz. Patrick is a world-renowned keyboardist and pianist who played with [British Rock Bands]Yes (1974-1976) and The Moody Blues (1978-1991). Truly, he is as close to a modern incarnation of Mozart that we will see in our lifetime. That sounds over-the-top and ludicrous, doesn’t it? But, check it out. You’ll see.

For an opening act, I decided to book a friend, Eric Dahl. Eric is a talented songwriter/storyteller, but I remember the day he told me he didn’t know how to play the guitar. I’d seen him perform and loved his songs…how could it be that he ‘knows not’ how to play? As it turns out, a guitar-playing friend tunes his acoustic guitar to an open chord and all Eric has to do is move his thumb and index finger up and down the neck to play simple patterns. As an aside, this is the way Glen Wilson (from my novel series, the continuing adventures of Glen Wilson, which starts with Steel Waters) also plays the guitar. This is in no way coincidental, but never mind that.

The concert was fun and the audience ate it up. Then, at the end, for an encore, a group of people wanted to hear Eric playing with Patrick. My heart sank. This would be a disaster… We can’t combine one of the premier pianists of the world with a fellow who does not know how to play the guitar. Sensing a meltdown, I sank into my seat and tried to disappear.

Here’s what happened. Eric got on stage, grinned at the crowd and started playing and singing a simple, funky bluesy pattern. Genius that he is, Patrick joined in and played wild, creative and amazing accompaniment. It was great. Perfect. Beautiful. And taught me a valuable lesson. I have the recording. It’s cool.

The life lesson?

Be bold. Take the lead. Show up.

What does this mean to my fellow writers? We’ll have setbacks. The blank page will sit on our screen and mock us. We’ll get a bad review. Another rejection letter. We’ll lose a contest. It can be overwhelming, paralyzing and depressing.

That’s life.

What should we do? Work! Perfect your skill at creating characters, designing a story arc and executing your ideas with good grammar, vocabulary and syntax. No matter where you started and no matter where you are today, you can get better and inch closer to your goal. Step-by-step. Day-by-day.

And that’s what I’m doing. Thanks Eric.

Ken Coffman is the author of Fairhaven, Steel Waters, Hartz String Theory and other mad novels available from and other online bookstores. He wrote a popular technical book called Real World FPGA Design with Verilog published by Pearson-Prentice Hall.

He is a Field Applications Engineer and Member of the Technical Staff at Fairchild Semiconductor.He is the coauthor of six patents, a member of the standards association of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Ken is the publisher of Stairway Press, publishing and marketing literary books in various genres (including science, science fiction, short stories, political essays, literary thrillers and adventures). 

Ken is a guitar player. He and his wife live in the Seattle area.  He plays golf exactly the way his boss wants him to: very poorly.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm being bold right now!

Clarissa Draper said...

I've heard that quote a lot but never knew what it meant or how it could be that easy but your post had such a good example. Wonderful!

James Rafferty said...

Hi Ken. Great anecdote about Patrick Moraz and Eric Dahl. It's a fine object lesson. Sharpen your skills, put them to use and then be willing to put your work out there. One never knows how it will turn out until that hand is raised and you go for it.

Carol Kilgore said...

I love this post! I've said that a few times today. Bloggers are tuned in to inspiration today for sure.

Hope you feel better soon, Sia.

Diane Kelly said...

My mother used to say the same thing to me about success - that showing up is the biggest factor. And it's so true!

Great post! Hope the stomach bug is gone now!!!!!

Jo said...

Sorry you are still off colour Sia. Not read the blog yet, I will, but I am suffering insomnia and so am bloody tired.