Writing and getting published is a journey. One that oftentimes feels isolating and lonely. When you do find a community of other writers, it’s very easy for an ugly beast to rear its head.
Comparing your journey as an author to another’s. In other words, envy.
I’m writing this post as much for myself as for others out there because I’ve seen both sides of this coin lately. I’ve had other authors reach out to me, envious of where I am in my journey. And the ugly green monster has bitten me, forcing me to compare myself to writers who are further along in their paths than I am.
Each of us has our own path as a writer. Looking in from the outside, we tend to see only the successes of others and often don’t realize the treacherous journey leading them to that end. For instance, I’ve written two novels, queried agents for twelve years, gotten hundreds of rejections, cried millions of tears and wanted to give up at least a thousand times throughout the years. Several authors have reached out to me, envious of all of the attention Bits & Pieces is receiving right now or the number of reviews I’ve gotten. And, I understand because I’ve felt the exact same way towards other authors who are enjoying their moments in the spotlight.
But, what I try to remind others of is that this is just my moment to shine tucked amongst hundreds of moments where I didn’t. And wrapped up within so much hard work. None of my successes have come without many hours of behind the scenes efforts. Or without tears. Or without pain. Or without heartbreak.
As all of us know, this industry is quite fickle. To date, my sales have been decent and the reception I’ve gotten thus far has been largely positive. But, I know, this could all change in a heartbeat. Or, my next book could have zero interest. These are the reasons I feel that it is imperative to stay humble regardless of where I am in my journey.
I too have been feeling envious of several friends of mine who are having wild success right now. Earning more money in a month than I probably will in a year. It seems every marketing strategy they try results in thousands of sales. Everything they touch turns to gold. When I start comparing myself, bad things happen.
First, I forget to have gratitude for the good things happening in my writing journey. Secondly, it puts a wedge between me and the other authors, who usually are friends (at least virtually). Third, it’s just plain ugly behavior. Fourth, it makes me push myself in an unhealthy way towards a goal that was never mine to begin with.
Every time that green-eyed monster starts to rear it’s ugly head, I have to go back to my initial definition of success. The one I’ve had for the last twelve years. Success to me meant:
- Having an agent or a publisher
- Having a book out in the world with my name on the cover
- People reading and enjoying my book
That’s it. Success was that simple. And, according to that definition, I have success.
I think it’s natural for our definition of success to grow and change over time, otherwise life would get a bit boring. My idea of success has grown since I’ve been published. I’ve met some of these new goals so far like:
- having my book available in audio and hardcover
- reaching at least fifty reviews on Amazon
- hearing someone say my book is one of their favorites
- having my book on shelves of bookstores & libraries
- holding an author event at my favorite bookstore ever, The Book Loft.
Some of my new goals I haven’t yet met:
- earning enough money from my writing to make a financial difference for my family
- earning a literary award
- reaching 100 reviews on Amazon
- publishing my second book, The End of Echoes
- finishing (and publishing) my third book
While I am striving to meet new goals, I refuse to forget how far I’ve come. I refuse to allow myself to be envious of other writers and instead will celebrate their successes with them, knowing they too fought a battle to get where they are. I choose to be grateful for my journey thus far and remain hopeful about where it will take me next.
As members of the Writing Community, how about we all make a promise to each other? Let’s not compare ourselves to others. Let’s tell that green-eyed monster to shut-up. Let’s remember what our initial definition of success was when we started the journey. Let’s celebrate each other’s accomplishments while not discounting our own. Let’s stay humble even when good things are happening in our journey. Let’s not give up when nothing seems to be going our way. We all grow stronger when we support each other. This journey is hard enough without letting the green-eyed monster get in the way.
Wishing you much success, support, and humility in your journey.