Ever feel envious that another writer is where you want to be? It's probably normal for us to feel that way at some point along our path to success. I mean, just think about it---no matter where you are on your path, there's always someone (or even many) who are more successful with it.
Take the newbie novel writer--perhaps he envies his writer friend who's already finished her novel and is on revisions. Or perhaps it's the aspiring author stuck in the query phase who envies a writer friend with an agent. Perhaps the agented author envies the writer with a two book contract, or the published author who envies the NY Times bestseller.
You catch my drift. Everyone's path is unique. There will always be more to strive for, and that's good. But I don't think we can compare ourselves to other writers. Even as a NY Times bestseller someone out there will think our work sucks. That's the brutal hard truth of it. Look at how many writers out there thing Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga was written poorly. I, for one, can excuse the writing if you tell me a good story. But as I grow as a writer, I tend to notice it more.
Growing as a writer is my whole point of this post. It makes no sense to envy other writers when we are all constantly growing and evolving into better ones. Almost two years ago I emailed a story I wrote to one of my best friends (who's not a writer.) And she promised to read it. It was a short, 60k word contemp romance, so I knew it wasn't asking too much of her to read.
However, time and parenthood got the best of her and she never read it, and I forgot about is as I moved on to other projects. Well, about two months ago she called me and told me she just read the whole thing and loved it. I cringed. I could only imagine how bad my writing was, I've grown so much since then. Of course, I was flattered she read it, and flattered even more that she was able to overlook the poor writing and enjoy the story.
Out of curiosity, I went back and read the first few chapters and naturally I was editing as I went. My skin was crawling at the poor sentence structure and overuse of adverbs and adjectives. I mean, wow! I should probably just rewrite the whole thing... that's how bad it is. But the story was there. So even through the bad writing I was able to see that I'm a storyteller.
Which brings me to the next point: I think it's important we recognize our potential and strength and talent, just as much as we recognize our need for constant growth. If we are ever changing, learning, and growing there's no doubt we'll succeed. No need for author envy. There will always be someone ahead and someone better, but if we persist through personal growth and build a network of positive writer friends around us, we will taste our own personal success.
And we'll arrive there from our own unique path.
What are your thoughts on author envy? Ever felt it? How did you overcome it?