As I begin taking steps toward having a novel released, I start wondering about, you know, comparing myself. As I mentioned in a previous post, A little healthy comparison, an author cannot compare certain things. Sales, fans, popularity, success. Not only are these elements largely outside of a persons direct control, they are also subjective.
Sales depend on exposure and marketability (cover art, blurb, author presence), as well as content. Fans are a trickier thing again, but a small and rabid fanbase can do more for an author than a larger, lukewarm group. Popularity comes and goes, for the book, for the author, for the genre. And success, that’s all in the eye of the beholder. Success is determined by what you want, and reaching milestones and goals.
Will I be able to keep that mindset once my book is out there, competing with the rest? Will I stay Zen? I like to think I know myself pretty well. I am honestly, truly happy to support other writers and see them succeed. In terms of what others have achieved before me already; the stack of finished manuscripts, the publishing acceptance, their dream agent, or a roaring independent career, I can say that I only rejoice for them! I can assess what they’re doing, and make decisions about my own path in relation, but I don’t feel grumbly that I’m not there yet.
But it changes when you’re down in the dirt with them. It would be naïve to pretend otherwise. Looking from the outside in might have a twinge of longing beside it, but once you’re actually exposed and, really, once you’re vulnerable, something shifts.
Again, I’m pretty self-aware, as far as I can tell. I don’t believe there will ever come a time where my friendships and admiration for other people and their own writing success will become tainted with jealousy or resentment. I don’t work that way. Sure, I get down on myself when I think I’m not doing so well, but that has little to do with what others are getting out of their efforts. My little stabs of depression are almost universally because I haven’t reached a goal I set out for – even if that goal was a barely half-thought mad idea in the first place.
In the end, it’s not that someone else did – it’s that I thought I could, and I didn’t. Especially if I know I didn’t try hard enough. So here’s to ongoing happiness, even when the competition starts!
6 thoughts on “Truly happy”
This is an amazingly honest post, Ashlee, and so quintessentially you. It really is about whether one reaches those goals on sets for oneself. It’s not about competing with others, but we can’t help but sometimes measure our own hopes for success against the yardsticks of the perceived success of others.
At best, all we can do is our very best. And then we must be satisfied with whatever that reaps for us. Personally (and I know you agree) just finishing an entire novel that we are proud of is one kind of success.
I am wishing you success beyond your wildest dreams!
Thank you, Cynthia. You always tell me the best things. :3 You’re exactly right, others are our yardsticks, even if we try to avoid overt comparisons. It’s also hard when our ideas of “success” must be redefined when we actually reach goals. You’ve hit one landmark, where do you aim for next? It can be a lot to think about!
Oh, I’m sure you’ll handle it just fine! You’re one of the most positive people I know, and I don’t think having a book out will change that. *clinks glass* To happiness!
Haha, thank you, Annie! If anything, I hope having my novel out in the world will only make me a more optimistic person (oh man, perish the thought XD).
It’s helpful to think about our own goals. I’m glad you brought that to light as a way to focus on positivity. So wise beyond your young years, Ashlee.
Since I might have skipped a few posts, have you talked about specifics for your book release yet? If so, can you direct me to the details? How exciting to be so close!
Aww, thank you, Barb. 🙂
No, still no specifics, unfortunately! You can be sure any updates will go on the novel’s website, if you want to follow the news blog: http://thedamningmoths.com/
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