Friday, August 16, 2013

Writing: The Success Of Others

In this era of burgeoning social media (most of you know about my love-hate relationship with those things, and apparently I'm not alone), it's almost mandatory for a writer to have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, just to name a couple of areas. Not only do I post in those venues, I read the work of other writers as well. I must confess that sometimes it's difficult to offer congratulations to a writer who's just received a multi-book contract while wondering if my next one will come through. It's even tough to read about writers going on vacation in exotic places or eating fantastic, creative dishes when we're fighting the good fight here at home and wondering whether to have dinner in or go out for a burger. In other words, comparison keeps creeping in, and it would kill me if I let it.
A fellow writer (a very successful one) called my attention to this NY Times essay recently, addressing the turmoil in the mind of writers who, despite their striving, fail to get the awards and attention that come to those who are equally (but not better) talented. 

One of the things friend, mentor, and author James Scott Bell taught me early on was that comparison was death to an author. Don't try to keep up with the Joneses--there are too many of them. Be happy for the success of others, but don't break your neck trying to do everything they do.

For those not-yet-published, let this serve as a caution. For readers of this blog who've had one or more books published, have you had to fight the battle of not comparing your success with others? Any tips you'd like to pass along?

(photo via

SPECIAL NOTE: In two months, my next novel, Heart Failure, will release. You can read the first couple of chapters now by clicking the link on the front page of my website. Hope you enjoy it.


Unknown said...


Great post. As a not-yet published writer, these discussions are very interesting to me. The NY Times essay ends on a rather sad, fatalistic note. We will all soon return to dust and ashes.

I hope that we might have a higher purpose for our work, that our creative endeavor may serve a greater good, that we might make this world a better place through our writing. And if our goal is service, it matters not so much what recognition or success we achieve in the eyes of this world.

Of course there is the need to support ourselves, so finances become a real concern. I must admit that I started into medicine with the same idealistic philosophy of service. And because of the need to stay afloat became too concerned with financial success. Now as I move into writing, I may be idealistic about serving a greater purpose. But I must realize that I will probably fall into the same human trap as other writers. So I will not judge.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Steve. I hope that, as you travel down your own particular road to writing, you manage to avoid the trap of comparing your successes (and failures) with those of others. Sounds like you've got a good handle on for whom you and I are writing.