Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Men may not be much on comparison when it comes to shopping, but since I've embarked on this road as a writer, I've certainly found myself comparing...a lot. And it kills me when I do.
Social media have changed our society. (For those of you thinking, "He's on his soapbox again," you're right). Like all authors, I have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Goodreads--all opportunities to interact with readers and fellow writers. But when I open my Twitter and see another author sharing about a new contract, I can't help thinking, "What am I going to do when my present contract runs out?" If the news is of a book that wins an award, my thoughts run toward, "I've had several nominations, but never won something that allows me to use the term, 'Award-Winning.' When is it my turn?" And so on.
Beyond social media, there's the temptation to compare my writing with that of others. I like to read novels from the general market, as well as Christian fiction, and there are times when I close one of those books and think, "I can never write like him/her." Comparison rears its ugly head.
One of the things I like about writing in Christian fiction is that, by and large, fellow authors are willing to help, to praise, to rejoice with the success of others. And that's great. But when I see such success all around me, there's always this little voice from behind me that says, "Why not you?" And the answer is, "I can't be James Patterson or JK Rowling. I shouldn't try to emulate anyone else. I have to be Richard Mabry and produce the best work I can."
The problem extends beyond writing, of course. Someone--it may have been my friend and mentor, James Scott Bell-- said, "Comparison is death for a writer." I'd change that to "Comparison can be death for anyone." If someone else at work gets a promotion you think you deserve, how do your react? If another church has a larger attendance, bigger screens, better music, do you find yourself thinking of changing?
How about you? What's your take on comparison? I'd like to know.