As a writer in limbo (agented, but haven’t sold anything YET), one of the most debilitating things to your self confidence can be watching other writers achieve the success you so desperately crave. And it doesn’t have to just be well-known authors who hit the NYT Best-Sellers List or writers you’ve never met before (although that can happen too). But the hardest (IMO) is when it’s with writers whom you think are the absolute best and most deserving people on the planet. It’s the weirdest experience to feel like you’ve been sucker punched so hard you can’t get your breath and then on the opposite side of the same coin feel ecstatic joy when you hear their good news. Two warring emotions existing in the same moment.
On the road to a career in books, it’s always going to feel like people are passing you by.
So and so sold another book.
So and so sold at auction.
So and so has already sold international rights to 3 countries.
So and so sold a trilogy.
So and so sold a standalone and is going to be top billed in the fall…
Then you just sit there, staring at the same ol’book you’ve been revising for 18 months and you think… this is never going to happen for me. Why am I doing this to myself?
Then you have the other writing related envy woes.
So and so can write so much faster than I.
So and so writes clean drafts and hardly has to revise.
So and so gets to write full time and I have to juggle a full time job and family.
So and so writes so beautifully and lyrical.
So and so has the best plots.
If you’re not a writer, you’re probably sitting here thinking, “Wow, Destiny, the grass is always greener on the other side. Get a hold of yourself!” and that is SO true! Because as I’m watching friends pass me by, I’m passing by others on this road.
I wrote, completed, and revised a book I’m proud of.
I got multiple offers from agents to represent my work.
I’m surrounded by wildly supportive writers who cheer me on.
It’s all about perspective.
I love what my friend Mara said in this blog post:
“Any time a blogger I knew got an agent, I felt like it was one less chance for me to sign with an agent. I truly believed there was only so much luck to go around, and that other people’s successes were my loss.”
That’s what it feels like. That someone else’s success means one less chance of success for me. Like there are a finite number of good things that can happen and every book deal means one less chance to achieve my dreams of becoming published.
How silly is that? Think about it logically. When you finish an incredible series that you loved, what is the first thing you do? You go out and buy another book hoping to have the same connection, the same love for the characters, the world, and the story. People don’t just read a book and then after they finish say, “Well that was nice that I got to check, ‘read a YA fantasy trilogy’ off my list. Now I’ll never read another book again.” That’s not how art works.
Good literature is a catalyst; it sparks a yearning for more.
And maybe one day I’ll be that more.
Until then, I’m going to focus on the only thing that I have any control over on this crazy journey to publication: what’s on the page. I’m going to keep writing, keep revising, and keep my spirits high because there is enough success for me.