Status, worry, and comparison are ways to madness, not victory.
So, have you googled yourself? In the early years of our marriage, I googled my husband and discovered he was on death row in Zambia, lived in South Africa, and he had died of AIDS in Malawi. Believe it or not, he has a common name…in Africa. I can’t imagine my curiosity when I publish my first book. I don’t know if I could resist. Couldn’t there be some value in seeing how the world responds to your book? Couldn’t we just keep our egos in check? Or not.
Whether we’re beginning our journey to publication, in the middle of it or beyond, I’m sure we have wondered how our writing measures up to what’s already out there. I’m sure we’ve all read books and wondered, how did that get publish? Then we read some books that leave us stunned. We climb back into our trees and contemplate giving up, but then we see the light again. Amy Rose Davis, author of Ravenmarked and Silver Thaw, sums it up great in a recent blog post,
“Reading really good fiction has a strange dual effect on me. Even as I’m thinking, “why bother to write?… my thoughts are also churning with new ideas, new plots, new characters, new themes. I came up with a great idea for a story this week, right in the midst of reading this book. Did the book have anything to do with my idea? I dunno. I just know I was inspired, and the Muse visited.”
In some fiction book proposals, we are asked to do market research. We need to know our “competition” or “comparable books” How are we similar? Different? Rachelle Gardner says in How to Write a Book Proposal, “It helps the editor develop a big-picture understanding of your book…how yours is similar and would appeal to the same audience.” But this is never done in a negative way, that is just poor etiquette. I haven’t figured out how to draw appropriate comparisons yet, but I’m sure it has something to do with balance and maturity. 🙂
Still, we find that when we compare or worry about what the next writer is doing, we will hinder our creativity. According to Bell, we’ll go mad…maybe we already are for taking on such a Hindenburg of a task. Tess Gerritsen, whom Bell quotes, gives us five pointers on how to remain sane in our writer’s journey.
- Stop checking your Amazon index
- Stop googling yourself
- Learn to say no
- Chase other interests
So, what say you? Do you agree or disagree with Bell’s assessment? Will you check Amazon and read reviews of your books? What do you do when you’re not staring at the computer screen? What other interests do you chase?
For me: I’ve got kids. I think they provide plenty of exercise as I’m always chasing them. My son’s favorite: the Tickle Monster.