Tuesday, January 08, 2013

When Success Blows By and Doesn't Stop for You

Saw where a friend was invited to a great speaking engagement for her book. She'd worked hard promoting her book, and her success thrilled me. But a tiny piece of me was jealous, wishing I'd been in her shoes.

Saw where another acquaintance landed a book contract with a New York publisher, and she was over the moon excited. Another author acquired a new agent with a highly reputable literary agency. Yet another won an award I've always craved. I was happy for all, and sent them messages accordingly.

By now, I wasn't jealous. I was depressed. And I was ashamed I'd felt either emotion. Which made me sad. Now my evening was bummed.

And I dare say that every writer on the planet has had these sorts of feelings at one point or another.

Writers work their butts off. We are some of the hardest working, least recognized, most overlooked professionals in the universe. We stoop over keyboards typing, deleting, retyping, cursing, getting up, then coming back, still hunting for the write phrase.Then we market the best ways we can, reaching out to whomever we can, letting people know what our writing has meaning. Praying someone notices. Ecstatic when it isn't rejected.

Then someone promotes better than we do, making record sales.
Someone wins awards we didn't know existed.
Someone sells a story idea we knew would be good, if we could have found a publisher.
Someone creates a gorgeous website we wish we could afford.
Someone manages a daily blog we'd never have the time to master. How the heck does he come up with so many ideas anyway?
Someone has a spouse to pay the bills while she writes, while we can't afford to write full-time.

Some days we float on words that make perfect sense. Our writers group sings our praises on Wednesday night, calling the piece our best work. Maybe an email says we write beautifully, and the reader stayed up all night finishing the book. An editor calls, saying she'll drop a contract in the mail for a piece we pitched six months ago, and actually pay us for the article. A new five-star review on Amazon.We ride so high, understanding now why we became writers.

So, so high.

And on other days we feel we're doing everything wrong.

Every single, solitary writer on the planet has had a day of doubt. Some have weeks. Some profess more. Those are the days that test you. Those are the times that force some writers to walk away and others to show their fangs in blame of others for the day's lack of productivity, lack of acknowledgement.

Lack of love.

All that success happening around us, and none of it ours. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Let yourself be down. Eat your tub of ice cream and watch a tear-jerker movie.  Wallow in self-pity for a while, long enough to get over yourself. Take a nap or go to bed.

Then get up, go to your words, and put them together again. Dabble at your craft and enjoy turning phrases. Ditch all the ill-will back in the recliner where you called yourself a horrible writer, and come out to play. Remember why you write. Shiver at a great sentence. Read a paragraph aloud to a good friend. Spin stories in your head while you go through the day. Keep coming back. One word in front of the other. Keep coming back.

Because one day success will blow by, and stop to kiss you, too.


Sophie Playle said...

Yup, I can relate to this!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Writing is such a lonely job (most of the time), so we're alone with our thoughts, our doubts, and so on.

I fully subscribe to the tub of ice cream cure. With a generous squirt of chocolate ice cream...

Linda O'Connell said...

Every writer can relate. I try to stay in this mind frame: compete with yourself, not others. That's why in January I soar on a submissions high, sending out up to twenty or more.

Karen@RunningWithKaren.com said...

This is true in all aspects of our lives. I get jealous of other people's running times and I get jealous of amazing blogs like this one. Jealousy is silly and pointless, but we're all human! Thanks for this post. I really loved it!

Audrey said...

Thanks Hope...as always thanks for saying it so well!

Hope Clark said...

We all feel this. I wouldn't be able to write about it if I wasn't feeling it, too! Good luck with your mew year's writing!

Hope Clark said...

Blogs like this one? Thanks so very much. I get so jealous of other blogs.

Rekaya Gibson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rekaya Gibson said...

Yes, I feel all these things. It feels like a normal process. Thanks for reminding me that my season is coming as well as yours.

Hope Clark said...

I like that, Rekaya. We all have our seasons. As an agronomy major in school, I can really appreciate that analogy. A dogwood blooms before the rose, which blooms before the crepe myrtle, etc. To each his own, and the result is unique . . . each with a beauty of his or her own.

Wow, I'm waxing poetic tonight!

Jackie said...

Paraphrasing Gibran: If you only have sunshine, you live in a desert. My growing pile of rejections proves I'm trying. If I get really depressed, I write about being really depressed. The current note on my refrigerator says, "Live life with a smile. It will really upset the people who have hurt you."

I have found that sharing my discouragement with people who understand helps me feel better. When people and events and harsh words drain my enthusiasm, I put them mentally on the window sill and then watch them blown away by the wind.

If none of this works, I take a long walk and come home to a glass of wine. Every single day means starting over.

Hope Clark said...

Jackie - I like "every single day means starting over." What a great way to wake up and tackle it all over again. Thanks for commenting!

Zakgirl said...

At least you get comments on your blog. But I've learned to keep doing and keep going no matter what. It's just what us writers do whether it's good for us or not.

Hope Clark said...

Zakgirl - I often don't get comments on my blog. Most people don't leave comments in their busy day. That's okay. Just keep at it and keep spreading the word.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Yes I can appreciate your frustration and depression Hope. It's not even that their work is better or they worked harder, its a matter of luck. It's more frustrating when that writer is young or new and has only written one book.

At least your book is out there and you can work towards book two and the future. Success is intangible. You are a writer. You are already a success.

(Something i need to remind myself).

Why do we rely on others for happiness? Silly occupation isn't it. lol

Hope Clark said...

It IS a silly occupation, Anthony. Why do we do this to ourselves? LOL

joeh said...

I am so with you on this. Fortunatley I don't need to make a living writing...i know i don't have what it takes, but I am lucky to be able to write and blog just because I enjoy it.

Hope Clark said...

How liberating, Joeh. Thanks for the comment!

Unknown said...

Very inspiring for the one's needing a faith booster.
If one really has the writing bug,it's not about expecting a payday. You just give it your best shot and hope you get somewhere.
But you will still write if you don't.
There are also author's that don't get published on their lifetime.
Greatness not always gets recognized. Stupidity often does. Watch T.V. if you doubt this.