Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Green-eyed Monsters and Advice to Slay Them

Posted by: Evey Brett
I've been to a lot of writing workshops and writing conventions. I have an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction. That means I know a lot of writer folks, newbie, pro and in-between, all of whom have various levels of success. I know pro writers pulling up out-of-print novels, fixing them up and selling them as e-books with increasing success (check out Book View Cafe for some of these re-releases, as well as a good blog with tips and insight from F/SF and romance writers.) Some of them still have a good career in print. Some don't.

And then there are the newbies and fellow workshoppers who've gotten into print with big publishers and getting lots of good reviews and even nominations for awards.

And some little piece of me goes...why isn't that me? I want an award. Heck, at this point I'd settle for a review, good or bad, of the latest book.

There are plenty of factors as to why my friends and I have varying degrees of success. Our writing styles and content are vastly different. At least one of my co-workshoppers has writing sessions with pro writers because he happens to live in the right place. Admittedly, other than a couple short stories I haven't written anything lately to target outside of e-book land. There are pro writers in my area, but they generally don't get together.

This past week, one of my pro writer friends, Steven Leigh (aka S.L. Farrell) put together a an essay called "Ten Things I've Learned (As a Writer)" . There are many good points, but the one that got me the most was this: "Early in aikido, I was told 'Never compare yourself to the other people who started about the same time you did. Only compare yourself to yourself.'"

Makes sense, yes? Hard to do, especially when I'm sitting at the library staring at an award-nominated book by a fellow workshopper. Though, on the flip side, there are also several fellow workshoppers that don't write anymore, or very little, for whatever reason.

Later on, Steve makes another salient point. Writers have egos, but: "Here’s the problem with chasing fame: you can’t catch Fame from behind. Fame, if it wants to, will instead catch you." Meaning, that if you try to jump on, say, the Steampunk bandwagon, by the time the book is written and submitted, the genre is already changing. And, "Whether or not you ever become famous is not under your control: therefore, don’t worry about it. At all."

So, Capriole is not destined to become the next e-book bestseller, obviously. But Steven points out there are two ways of looking at success, however minor: "You can think that it’s about fucking time the universe recognized your awesome talent and allowed this to happen, and now that it has happened, it’s probably going to be fucking forever until it happens again. Isn’t that what you’re thinking, Eeyore?

"Or you can embrace those successes and revel in them. Each time, you can taste all the pleasure the moment holds, then carefully place the memory in the section of your mind labeled “Excellent Stuff To Recall.” You can think that maybe, perhaps, the universe has just aligned itself a little more in your favor, and that it’s now more likely that things like this will continue to happen."

And I've had plenty of good things.I've made lots of friendships and received lots of advice from writers. One of the golden rules is Pay it Forward. Steve mentions this in his essay, as you can't always find a way to repay a writer who's helped you, but there are plenty of newer writers in need of aid, and most of us have been in their shoes at one time or another.

Another writer friend, Deborah J. Ross (known for continuing the Darkover books, but who's just released a new SF entitled Collaboraters under her other name, Deborah Wheeler) relates one of her experiences this weekend at Baycon.

"One of the people from the audience, a bright and earnest young woman, was there, and we struck up a conversation. The topic quickly switched from the panel itself to writing and then became one of those magical interactions, a chance to pay forward for all the support and advice I've received over the years...I need to remember that I too was once a beginner trying to figure out this writing business. I've made my share of mistakes, but I've figured out what works for me and I've heard a lot of stories about what works for other people, too. We don't have to re-invent the wheel if we're willing to be generous with our knowledge."

Nearly seven years ago, I met Deborah at a convention just like that lucky girl she mentions. We're still friends, and she included my short story, "Rent Girl" in her anthology, Lace and Blade 2. My first print story, nestled in with pro writers. Yes, I put it under my pillow when I got my contributer's copy.

So. There are little successes to combat those little green-eyed monsters that insist on popping up from time to time. Good memories, good friends and acquaintances to remind me that they, too, have been in a similar spot.

And by the time this is out I will be on vacation in a place where there are trees rather than cacti, and it's not 100 degrees. And writing. And writing some more.

Evey Brett

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points, all. Thanks for writing, I needed to read this.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...