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Insecure Writer's Support Group: Slaying the Green-Eyed Monster

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


This is this month's Insecure Writers Group post. On the first Wednesday of every month, writers post about their doubts, struggles and triumphs. It's a safe haven for writers of all kinds...



I recently attended the World Fantasy Convention, and as always at these things I found myself vacillating between wide-eyed fanboyism (Brian Aldiss! Joanne Harris! Tim Powers!) and something approaching green-eyed despair. All these wonderful authors with their wonderful books and their wonderful covers! All these wonderful writing careers.

I'm guessing this is a set of reactions most writers will be familiar with. And I know it's madness to go round comparing yourself to people who have made it to the very top - or even to anybody, come to that. You have to blaze your own trail, tell your own stories. And fair play to anyone who manages to scrabble up the slippery glass slopes of writerdom I say.

I know all this, but still it hurts. A little voice says I should be there. I should have that pile of books waiting to be signed. I should be on that panel. And beacuse I'm not I've failed.

It's a horrible insecurity - but it at least has a couple of upsides. One, it reminds me just how important being a writer is to me. And two, my reaction is not to give in but to come out fighting. A bloody-minded determination to damn well show everyone what I can do...

Are these familair feelings for all writers? Or is it just me?

Aside from this FantasyCon was great, by the way. Except that my huge pile of books-to-be-read has doubled in size overnight...

27 comments:

  1. I'm think this is pretty common. But you're going to hate me for saying this, I don't feel that way. Ain't I the annoying Pollyanna?

    What I think is that you never know what it feels like to be someone else. A writer friend was telling me the other day that they had a reading spot at a highly prestigious con and two people showed up. Poor guy. So, there's up and downs.

    But my real question, of course, is are you envious of me?

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    1. I don't hate you for saying it; I think that's a great way to be. And you're right - there's always someone more successful you could compare yourself against, however far you've got. I know I shouldn't even go there, but I do.

      Envious of you? It's an almost daily burden...

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  2. Great post, Simon!

    ...although...

    I do have to admit that I wish I could post as succinctly and cleverly as you; and write so well as the many works of yours I've read; and have had as much publishing success as you have; and get to go to conventions like you; and wear cool shades like you...

    (OK, well maybe I can at least do that last one.)

    See? It's universal -- and remember: While you're fanboying others and wishing you had their levels of writing "success", others are doing to you, too. ;^)

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    1. Thanks, Chris - wise and kind words. And the cool shades, yeah, they're definitely my greatest achievement! Is it less cool if I reveal the pic was taken while I was waiting for a princess parade at DisneyWorld?

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    2. Absolutely not! It only adds to the mystique.

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  3. I can totally relate to feeling jealous of more successful authors, especially if I don't think their work is outstanding. But I do need to remind myself that I'm a relative newbie in this field and I need to pay my dues before having a chance to be more successful.

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    1. Jennifer - fair point, and it is galling if the more successful work doesn't seem *that* great.

      Thanks for dropping by - and don't spend too long paying your dues! I'd try and just skip to the next bit if I were you...

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  4. I don't know, is it too much to say that if you can't relate you shouldn't be writing? We all want success, I think. Why wouldn't we? Yes I know, the noble will say - I do for me. I do it for me too but I would still like to be successful at it. I've signed a few books here and there, but I'd like a lineup, if you know what I mean. lol

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    1. Absolutely - I'd like that line-up too!

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  5. You haven't failed because time isn't up yet. Opportunity is still in front of you.

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    1. Wise words, Alex. Thanks for that and the whole ISWG thing.

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  6. I think the trick is to use those feelings to better ourselves and our craft, to challenge and improve and grow. Wallowing is allowed, though, for just a bit and then we need to move on. :)

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    1. Good point - wallowing is already done and dusted. Onwards and upwards!

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  7. No one fails when they write and tell their stories.

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    1. Good point - another thing I shall tell myself.

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  8. I wish I knew how to slay the green eyed monster. I see wonderful books by amazing authors with brilliant covers... sometimes I feel like I am floundering. But I don't want to give up. I want to keep writing because I do have a voice. I just have to keep moving forward and someday I will be able to look back at all of the wonderful books I've produced and be proud of it all. :D

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    1. I'm sure that will happen. Never give up!

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  9. That green-eyed monster takes a bite out of me frequently. As you say though, you're still writing and you conquer that slippery slope.

    ........dhole

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  10. I think it is very normal to compare oneself to others higher up on the food chain. If we didn't where would our ambition be?

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    1. That's a good point, Karen. Ambitions make life interesting, for sure.

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  11. It's not just you. Maybe it's just you and me, though. I never feel inferior. Do you? I feel equal to those who are farther up the road. I'm determined to get there. Just like you.

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    1. I feel inferior quite a lot, if I'm honest. But I damn well know I shouldn't. I like your attitude a lot more. I think I'll borrow it if that's OK!

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  12. Gems exist to reflect back what's important. As long as you don't hang them in a necklace round your throat, it's fine to observe their twinkle once in a while.

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I'd love to know what you think.