by Annette Lyon
Recently I had lunch with a writer friend. She's completed several novels but hasn't yet snagged a contract.
At one point in our conversation, she mentioned a bestselling writer in her genre and said something along the lines of, "I'll never be as good as she is. Why should I keep trying?"
I pointed out that there's room in every market for new voices, and fans of a genre are always looking for additional writers to love. It's not competition so much as spreading the love.
Again: "But I'll never be as good as she is."
My response: "So what?"
That may sound harsh, like I don't understand, but oh, I do. I understand all too well. Many, many times over the years, I've read a book and had almost identical thoughts.
I'll never be that good.
Why bother trying when there are works as brilliant as this?
Who in the world would want to read my drivel?
Then reality kicks in:
I'll never write like anyone else because I'm me.
What I can bring to the world of literature is mine and mine alone.
I can strive to improve, always.
I should never stop trying to get better.
To think I should never, ever write because others are farther along the path than I am . . . well, that's nothing short of paralyzing. It would mean I'd never write, never seek publication.
Never be read.
It also means never improving, because I wouldn't be in the trenches, working, writing, doing, learning. And never finding out what I'm capable of.
So no, I'll never be Author X or Novelist Y. And that's OKAY.
What I do need to be is the best ME that I can. That's a lifetime pursuit, one that won't come by watching my life pass by as I wait for it to happen. It won't come unless I act, sit down, write, submit. Wash, rinse, repeat.
In other words, I have do the work.
When in doubt, read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
Read it again with a red pen.
And write some more.
And never stop.