Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Little Bit Green

I'm going to let you in on a deep dark secret of mine. Sometimes, I get really jealous of what other people--authors in particular--seem to achieve with relative ease. Now wait, hold up, please don't let that statement turn you off until you've read the whole post.

I am a bit proponent of the thought that authors are not in competition with one another. And we're really not. For those who disagree with this statement consider this: yes there are so many millions of books out in the world, but unless you are a flagrant plagiarist, there is not one other single book out there that is exactly like yours. There are books with similar characters, similar settings, similar situations, similar quotes, similar names, similar appearances, similar tone, but none which mash all of those together with your particular style, with your unique voice.

And of those millions of books out there, there aren't many readers who want to read ALL of them--readers are humans (at least I assume, I apologize if I have any non-human readers out there reading this, no offence intended) and like all humans, they have personal tastes, cultures, and preference that will immediately wipe out a stack of the available reading material. For example, I don't particularly enjoy historical bodice rippers, so that's a huge chunk of available reading material instantly wiped from the realm of books I can enjoy. I don't generally read overtly and obviously religious texts . . . another chunk gone. You can keep cutting huge segments out of the available reading material through personal taste. Even within the narrow context of genre personal taste will parse down what's available.

So what does this have to do with not being in competition? Well, if you keep cutting that pile down eventually you get to the point where any one person doesn't really have enough reading material available to satisfy all of their cravings for a good book. Okay, so maybe they do, but that doesn't mean that they aren't constantly searching for their next read. One author cannot, I repeat CANNOT, fill the reading requirements of a reader. The most prolific authors I know rarely gets more than a novella out a month. Maybe a novel at an absolute stretch (but I would wonder about the level of editing in it personally). For most of us authors, it's maybe three longer works or a half dozen shorter ones at the most each year.

If we're not in competition, why do I get jealous? Well, it's human nature isn't it? My very first reaction when I see another new author get a dozen good reviews before their release or that their latest book shot straight up the charts is joy that they got a dozen good reviews before their release or that their latest book shot straight up the charts. But then that simmers and festers until it turns to jealousy and doubt. Will my book ever do that? Why can't I get those reviews? For that one blinding moment jealousy rears it's ugly head. It's human nature and even if I don't want to feel that way, I will.

What do I do with that jealousy? Do I take it and let it fester until I can't even look at the book any longer? No. I stow it away, allow it to turn back into pure joy for them (which it always does) and then celebrate their wins with them while getting back to the job of writing and editing. I use the greater understanding I have from the experience to breath more life and realism into my characters.

I guess the point of this post is that we're all human (and again, no offence intended if you're a wandering alien or super intelligent animal that has stumbled onto this blog post). We're all subjected to the whims of our make-up which includes the good and the bad. It's just a matter of looking past the bad to find the good. And of using the jealousy, the anger, the doubt, and all the negative things to find a positive place.

How about you? Have you ever had a bad case of green eyes? What was it over?

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