Lately I’ve been reading things other authors have posted that they want to draw the attention of their newbie writer audience to see, and they all have the same basic message. Rather than provide you with a list of links, I’ll sum it up the gist of them in Evil League of Evil Writers terms for you:
MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS.
What do I mean by that? Read it again.
Mind your own fucking business. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Eyes on your own paper.
So many writers (both published and unpublished) are so fucking worried about what so-and-so is doing (or has already done) that their attention is permanently diverted from their own work that it stalls or, worse, stops all together.
When I was many years younger than I am now, I was guilty of this myself. For a good long while, I couldn’t read other books. I’d get so disgusted with myself seeing all these books with someone else’s name on the cover that bookstores (which have always been my beloved sanctuaries) were a nightmare to even pass, let alone go inside.
That right there, above? Let’s call that what it is: jealousy. I’ll admit it. I was jealous that these people had done something I was working to do.
Wait…hold on a second…stop right there. What was that? Say that again.
“They had done something I was working to do.”
Yes. That. That right there?
THAT WAS A TOTAL LIE.
I wasn’t working to do anything. I was thinking about doing it. Wanting to do it. I wasn’t actually sitting down writing a story – I was dreaming about the day I would have a book with my name on it.
The thing about dreams is that they are just that – dreams. In dreams, you don’t have to put in years of work, suffer through countless rejections, attend conferences and workshops, go through edit letters and rewrites, get one-star reviews on book sites, etc. None of that. No. In dreams, you have a book with your name on it and everyone loves it, the end.
Dreams, as lovely as some of them would be, are not reality. That’s why they’re called “dreams.” In order to make your dream of having a book with your name on it a reality, there are steps for you to take and procedures for you to follow. The first one is “write the damn book.”
That’s it. That right there. You can’t publish a book you haven’t written, so if that’s your dream – if you want a book published with your name on it – you have to write one. (Yes, YOU – not someone else. YOU have to write one. Or five. Or ten. That first one is in all likelihood not going to be the one that gets your name on a book cover. Reality, remember.)
Those people with agents and book deals and their names on covers of books you see in stores? They’re not out there thumbing their noses at you. (Well, most of them aren’t. Like any group, there are always a few assholes [whom I so badly want to link to but won’t because you already know who they are and they don’t need any more attention] who make the rest of the community look like douchebags, so just believe me when I say 99% of other writers don’t do this.) You are not being denied entry to some exclusive club.
The moral of the story here, people, is stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or getting done and concentrate on what you’re not doing – writing. Which brings me to a side point: don’t write to trends. By the time you get your story finished, something else will be popular and your story will be outdated and unwanted. Write the story you want to write, not the story you think someone else wants to read.
Keep your eyes on your own paper. Do your own work. When one of your peers gets an A on their paper (in the form of a book deal, agent, publication, whatever), don’t be jealous that they got something you didn’t. First of all, they didn’t “get” anything; they earned it. (With some exceptions who again shall not be named.) Be proud that their hard work has paid off. Keep working yourself and someday, you’ll be the A-student. Don’t waste time being jealous, or wishing for something to happen to you. Every moment you waste worrying about what’s going on in someone else’s career is a moment taken away from your own.