Reflections, Writing

In the grand scheme of writing

I can be ridiculously petty, envious, and jealous. That’s something I wish I hadn’t learned about myself in the four years since I started writing for publication. And there’s no logic to these feelings.

Why envy the sales of an author who has fifteen published novels and a well-funded marketing team? And writes in a different genre—a hot one?

Why resent an author for being the darling of certain groups when I don’t even want to join those groups?

What sense does it make to be jealous of a writer who’s had umpteen stories published in literary magazines when I never submit any of mine?

And on and on and on. A waste of energy. A pathetic self-indulgence. A comparison of apples to oranges.

In all of life, a personal sense of success depends on your perspective. Pettiness, envy, jealousy, any negative emotion, keeps you lying in the dirt looking up. All writers publish because they want to share their work with others, and we all hope many others. There’s a larger market for some genres and types of writing than for others—apples and oranges.

One problem today is that authors, even traditionally published ones, are required to be more involved in the marketing side. It’s too easy to start comparing when so many authors are online shouting out sales figures and rankings, and giving advice—You too could be a publishing phenomenon, if you follow these six easy steps! Comparison leads to dissatisfaction. We see ourselves as less successful.

Too often, I let envy and jealousy steal any sense of success from me. My perspective skews. I wrote a book that already hundreds of people have read! How can I keep forgetting that? And I’m not finished writing. Who knows what I might accomplish a year or twenty from now? In the grand scheme of my writing career, I’m just beginning.

How’s the view from your perspective?

23 thoughts on “In the grand scheme of writing”

  1. I can’t help but to agree with what The Hyperteller stated. I feel this way sometimes.

    WHEN: I become jealous of a certain writer I try to figure out why. Are they better than me? Do they suck in comparison/or is their writing trite? Is it because I WISH I could write in that tone/genre/style? Am I envious of their magnanimous personality and their ability to connect with other people/readers/writers? Do I wish I had their drive/talent/determination?

    As you can tell by the questions I pose, most of the time I’m jealous because I admire the other writer. Unfortunately, I’m still human. 😦

    Everyone in the little group I was in either bowed out early (even when their writing was phenomenal like Kathan Ink.) or had a successful publication while I still kicked the same mistakes in the spine of my writing, over and over without improvement. There is a certain self-imposed shame in being last/worst/unsuccessful.

    Some writers have the conqueror’s attitude. When defeated that IS what makes them try harder to get ahead. It can be out of spite, anger, jealousy, or maybe even some positive emotion; but, I’m a realist. In a race, the worst runner always finishes last. That’s when I started seriously looking at my writing and the chances of me ever having any smidgeon of success. So, instead of being jealous I simply quit and left the big boy/girl pants on the rack for the adults.

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    1. Well, T.A., I’m not sure I agree with you. Maybe the last runner in the race was just having a bad day. Maybe in the next race, or the one after that, she would’ve won. Or maybe she was a marathon runner trying to compete in sprints.

      Hyperteller said: One day, if we’re very lucky and we work hard enough, we could be authors that aspiring writers are jealous of.

      Of course, that’s assuming we don’t give up.

      That’s assuming we can walk away and forget we ever wanted to wear those big girl pants.

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      1. Also, even if the worst runner does finish last, they still finish. Crossing the line is what matters, not the time. Perhaps you’re putting too much pressure on yourself? I know what’s like, waking up and looking at yourself in the mirror, wanting to shout ‘Why aren’t you published yet?’ Have you stopped writing completely, or just you’ve stopped writing with the intent to publish/for anyone else to see? As for finding the same mistakes, perhaps you’re not approaching trying to fix them in the right way. That’s why talking with other writers is a great thing to do – they can point out what keeps going wrong, but they can also suggest fixes 🙂

        And to respond to Linda’s point about walking away – just out of curiosity do you ever get that writing itch? Ever think ‘I could always give it another go…’

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        1. And I do get the itch. But if I should give it another go, I think I’ll take care to start with a task much smaller than a novel and see if I can manage to wrangle something worth sharing with others from there.

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      2. Unfortunately, I can walk away from noveling with little to no regret. It’s not that I’ve stopped writing completely. I do still dabble with poetry and I’m writing personal essays that I intend to bind and leave behind for my children. I only think that my dreams of being a novelist were premature, having not the level of skill required to produce something publishable.

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  2. I appreciate your honesty here, Linda. So often we are ashamed or afriad to admit these things. We all like to give the perception that we’re perfect a lot of the time. 🙂 I do think this is fairly common or I hope it is. Not many are willing to admit it though. It is sometimes tough seeing the success of others and wishing it were us instead. It’s something we eventually come to terms with as we gain more confidence and trust in our own abilities. We’re only human after all.

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