Today I continue my musings on the top myths of the writing life. Wherein I share some of the odd notions I started out with; and how they just ain’t true.
My journey in writing started over two decades ago. I don’t blame myself for not having had a clue about things. In fact, I’ve been delighted to be proven wrong. Over and over again.
Wrong about what? Things like how one big introduction or connection will launch my career; how cool and glamorous being a published author is (Go ahead, fellow authors, snicker!)
And today’s myth: how in this cut-throat competitive arena, authors basically wish you ill.
Myth #3: Other Writers Will Stab You in the Back
When I first started out, I was concerned about the hyper-competitive publishing environment. It’s a dog eat dog world, I reasoned. All those raging egos and jealous fellow writers!
What I was conflating is the competition for visibility and sales, which is real, but not the result of other authors working against you–and relationships with other writers. (Perhaps spawned in the memory of those horrid high school cliques of oh-so-together people.)
To be fair, the publishing world is tough, and one is going to get bruised in ego and pocket book. It should give aspiring authors a few moment pause before plunging in. But we don’t need to worry about everything. Some things will be remarkably rewarding.
Like people. Yes, published authors are usually highly competitive. They have enormous energy to invest in creation and promotion. We can’t help but envy them and worry that we’ll never achieve what they have. That’s natural. And if you find yourself feeling these things and wonder whether you have a nasty, paranoid mind set, stop beating yourself up. We all experience those feelings. Um, perennially.
The fact is, however, that other authors will end up being among your best friends. Remember, everyone is basically lonely and afraid. It’s human nature. Most writers relate to the uncertainty and frustration of the writing life, and are generous with each other. No one else “gets” the writing life as much as another writer. I even think that there may be more generosity among writers than in other fields.
And inevitably, you’ll click with a few writers, and you’ll share the journey with them–through the ups and downs, at conventions and signings, at writing retreats and worry sessions over the phone if your buddies are far away. When you make a big sale they’ll email you a picture of them toasting you! They’ll give you blurbs for your books. They’ll help you strategize, celebrate, and survive.
So much for stabbing in the back.
It’s a dog help dog world. And even when it isn’t, if you’re open to building friendships, there’ll be a group of writers who’ll be on your side. I guarantee it.
For the other posts on my Myths of the Writing Life series.