Defining Success: Amy Koppelman


Amy Koppelman is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, A Mouthful of Air and I Smile Back. She received her undergraduate degree from University of Pennsylvania, and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. Koppelman and her screenwriting partner adapted I Smile Back for the screen. The film, starring Sarah Silverman, premiered at the 2015 Sundance, Toronto and Deauville Film Festivals. The paperback of her latest novel,  Hesitation Wounds is coming out in November 2016 and can be pre-ordered here. Amy lives in New York City with her family. She is an outspoken advocate for women’s mental health.

How do you define success?

Success, by my metrics, is someone who begins the day with a sense of gratitude, conducts themselves with a sense of honor and duty,  loves the people they love as hard as they can for as long as they can.

How do you measure your own success?

There’s an old adage that goes something like:  A parent is only as happy as their unhappiest child. It might sound corny to you but for me “success” is all about how my family’s doing. If my husband and kids are happy,  engaged with the world and loving towards each other I feel successful.  

How does success feel?

Success feels lucky.

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

I had the opportunity to teach a writing class at Columbia this summer.  It was the same class I took in 1994 – the first writing workshop I ever experienced. As I walked through the gates at 116th Street  - this time as a teacher – I couldn’t believe how far I’d come. Somehow I overcame all that sadness… And I felt proud.  I really did.  No matter how hard I fought the emotion, I couldn’t help but feel proud.  

How do you celebrate your success?

I celebrate everything with ice cream.  Truly.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?Establish your definition of success and live by those terms.  Give thanks for every sunrise.


Twitter: @amylkoppelman | Website: