Friday, August 20, 2010

Don't be Jealous

Are you stuck in the mud unable to get your writing the visibility you'd like? Do others around you seem to be have more success or even some success?

Well, don't be jealous. We are all working hard to write and create stories we will enjoy reading. If writer A succeeds while writer B does not, there are a few things to remember:

  • What is and is not published is completely subjective. If your work is going nowhere this is part of the reason. To change this you need to know how to sell your work.
  • Competition is fierce. I submit a story and it is rejected. Part of the reason for this is the magazine I submitted to is flooded with other work as good or better. This does not mean my story is bad, just that the other stories a better fit for that magazine. So I move on.
  • Luck is factor. Some people just show up at the right place and the right time and some people don't. I usually don't. If you are not lucky then you'll need to rely on talent, skill, and persistence.
  • Some people are more talented than you. And some are not. This does not mean you can't write. It does mean you need to write your best at all times. If you are going to market with a B-story and not an A-story you will only have heartache after heartache.
  • Publishers do not take risks. If your story is risky to them and they feel it won't sell, you are rejected. That doesn't mean they are right, only that you may need to self-publish to have the story go out to the world.
I say these things not to discourage anyone; rather I am trying to be honest so that you understand the forces working against you. Frankly I'm surprised anything ever gets published given all this. But I also say this to remember myself why I find myself in this boat. The longer I go down this path, the harder it is for me to continue because I seem to be going nowhere. It is easy to forget what I'm up against because I don't see anything obvious working against me. But they are there nonetheless.

For me, this does not stop twinges of jealousy from flaring up. Yes, I get jealous of others. I am only human after all. That doesn't mean I wish these people ill. On the contrary, I wish them all the succeed they can earn. I just wish I was there with them going on the same journey, instead being stuck on the shore waiting for a boat to have room for me.

It also doesn't make me a bad person, flawed perhaps (and who isn't?) but not bad. Luckily I am not consumed by jealousy. That would do me no good. I have to remember to stay focused. I determine my own success or failure. Me. Not the writers who are succeeding. Not the publishers who are rejecting me. After all, if I wrote a story than was a perfect fit for a magazine or small press they'd take it in a shot. They'd be stupid not to. But my work isn't a perfect fit so I need to sell my work the best I can, self-publish, or give up.

For now, I'm trying to sell my work. Well talk about doing that next time.


Anonymous said...

I hate it when I feel those twinges of jealousy, and I tend to beat up on myself when I do because I know that it's wrong, but I am only human. I also happen to be one of those people who would really like to have some sort of validation of my work. The "good" writers, the real artists, are happy with just writing. I crave feedback like oxygen.

I do realize that it is partially my own fault. I continue to throw my shots at the highest target, hoping that they might stick, when I really should be starting closer to the bottom. I have no credentials and what I'm writing would be a risk to a publisher, no doubt. I strive constantly to push away the green-eyed monster, but I don't pretend that it's not there, and I make a point of admitting it when I'm feeling envious - while also letting the person know that I admire them and that I wish them the best (because I do.)

Will I continue to be jealous? - Probably, but I will also struggle to curb it as well. And maybe, if I'm ever in those shoes that one wears with success, I'll be more forgiving of anyone who at is then jealous of me...


Rich Feitelberg said...

It is normal to be jealous, a little, to want validation, and to know you are on the right path. At least I think so. I don't know that real artists are happy with just writing. I think everyone wants to succeed. We will never know how a Stephen King or Scott Orson Card would have handled more rejection than they got.

The only thing we can do is work at our writing and hope that something will be published at some point. Focus is important here because it is easy to lose sight of the larger goal we strive for.

One odd thing about all this is that now that I've admitted to this, I feel better. I am more focused and my own self-doubt is less. Maybe I don't give a damn any more, but I think I've wrestled a few more demons to the ground. We'll see.