Strategies to avoid looking like a gherkin when good things happen to other people (particularly your writer friends)
Recently a very good writing friend had some terrific news on her journey towards publication.
She is a wonderful person and very talented, and I’m SO FREAKING EXCITED for her. Like, jumping up and down squeeing and typing horrendously excited.
But there was a moment when I paused and wondered, “Why her? Why not me?”
In my case, there’s a simple answer: because I’m not querying yet.
Sure, I might query for a long time without getting any positive signals, but I’m certainly not going to get any while I’m not querying. So what I need to do now is get my butt in my chair and finish my revision. (I’m working on it, honest.) Then re-polish to a mirror-like shine. Then engage beta readers…
But what if I were querying and a friend got this good news? What if I’d been querying longer than her?
Would I be envious?
I’d still be thrilled for her, but I imagine I’d have a hard time not turning a little gherkin-like in the colour department.
Since I don’t want to wander around looking like a gherkin, now seems like a good time to come up with a strategy for when good things happen to writers who
deserve it less than me are not me.
I’ve narrowed it down to three possible options.
Strategy 1: Take it as encouragment
Writers exist who believe the only way to score a trade publishing contract is to be drinking buddies with the right people and the rest of us are screwed.
I’m not denying having the right drinking buddies might help you get published–I’m not that naïve–but every day people with no contacts in publishing get contracts through the brilliance (and marketability) of their books.
When a friend gets one step closer to being published, this shows it’s not only “other people” who get trade published.
Yesterday your friend hadn’t taken that step; today she has. Today you haven’t, but maybe tomorrow you will.
Don’t quit. She’s proof good things happen to people like you.
Strategy 2: Use it as motivation
Perhaps it was mere luck that your friend took a step towards publishing that you haven’t yet taken.
But maybe she’s doing something that you’re not.
You don’t need to compare, but why not use her success as a reason to examine the way you approach your own writing?
Do you carve out time to write even when it would be easier to blob and watch The West Wing?
Did you revise your book as well as you could before sending it into the world?
Did you get beta feedback, take it seriously, and use it to improve your novel even more?
Do you study writing craft through reading writing craft books and blogs, or analysing successful books that you read? Do you apply what you learn?
Do you study human behaviour, people’s motivations, reactions, and interactions, and use what you learn to make your characters come alive?
You do all that? You’re a legend. Keep doing it.
Strategy 3: Get drunk, moan to the cat about how unfair life is, celebrate with your friend, then get back to your writing
But sometimes you’re doing everything right, you’ve been querying since before your friend started writing, and your novel is so fantabulous it would make demons sing.
Life isn’t fair and publishing is random.
Recovery in this case requires four steps.
Step 1: Have a glass of wine.
Step 2: Rant to whoever in real life will listen. This will probably be your cat. She will respond ,”tuna?” or “sleeping”, depending on whether you woke her up to share your news.
Step 3: Cheer on your friend and help her celebrate her success. It might not be your success, but you can still get caught up in the excitement.
Step 4: Get back to writing. Your current book might be too brilliant to be appreciated by the world until after you die. Finish the next one, because celebrating is a lot harder when you’re dead, and your options for spending an enormous advance are much diminished.
(It should be noted that in preparation for this stage, I have tried to stock up on wine. Success has been limited–but I’ve got to drink a lot of wine.)
I’m still mulling it over, but at the moment I favour strategy 3.
How do you deal with envy when good things happen to
people who deserve them less than you friends?
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