Publishing is Not a Three-Legged Race
Guest Blogger: Beth K. Vogt (@BethVogt)
I’ve been running a three-legged race along the writing road for the past few months. Let me explain … no, that will take too long. Let me sum up. (Sorry, couldn’t resist a bit of humor from The Princess Bride!)
My debut novel, Wish You Were Here, released May 1, turning it into a “real” book being read by “real” people. As expected, some readers like my book. Most of them, I’m happy to say. Others? Not so much.
During this time, I’ve watched other writers release their books. Guess what? Some readers like their books. Some readers don’t. But oh, how I laser in on how much more their books are liked than mine — or so I think. Yeah, that makes for a little behind-the-scenes tension.
Comparing your success to other writers’ success is crazy-making. It’s as if you’re attempting a virtual three-legged race with another writer – and they don’t even know you’ve strapped your leg to theirs.
And you’re heading for a fall. Guaranteed.
At the recent Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC), Alton Gansky, the director, talked about the dangers of comparison. He came up with two words to help writers avoid the trap: Stop It. Nothing like getting straight to the point, Al.
So now I’m focusing on declining invitations to run a three-legged race with other writers. The insane thing is, I’m usually the one grabbing the rope and dragging myself to the starting line. There’s no fun along the writing road when I get ensnared by comparison. I can’t celebrate my successes – or anyone else’s. Al had his two word solution for the problem. I’ve settled on four: Be Abel, not Cain.
Yes, I’m referring to the biblical Abel and Cain. You may recall Cain killed his brother because Abel was more successful than he was. (Genesis 4). The following quote expands the analogy:
“Seeing someone else’s success creates a tension in us. We ask ourselves, ‘Am I capable of that kind of success?’ There are two ways to resolve the tension: work hard enough to find out the answer to the question ‘Am I capable of my own success?’ – or make the success seem smaller, crush it, eliminate it, kill it. When someone achieves, we have two choices. We can be inspired by the example, or we can tear it down; we can emulate the person or we can diminish him. We can choose to be Abel, or choose to be Cain.” ~Diane Faber Veitzer, author
Do I want to constantly weigh my success against other writers’ success? Do I want to take another writer’s success and shred it with my envious attitude?
No. I want to be Abel, not Cain. I want to concentrate on what I’m called to do — and then celebrate my successes and learn from my missteps. I also want to rejoice when another writer has reason to toss confetti.
How do you avoid the three-legged race of competition with another writer?
Beth K. Vogt provides her readers with a happily-ever-after woven through with humor, reality, and God’s lavish grace. She’s a non-fiction author who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Beth has discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us.