- Kristan Higgins
The thief of joy
Updated: May 4, 2022
’m off to the national conference of Romance Writers of America this week, gang! I’ve never been to Colorado, and I’m wicked excited to see it. McIrish is coming to the conference this year, because he loves the Rocky Mountains, and we’re staying a few extra days to see some elk, hopefully. Maybe a grizzly bear, too. I've already planned how to save McIrish, so don't worry about us. : )
I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing community, and mostly how wonderful it is and how I can’t wait to see so many of my friends. But it’s also a time when comparison kicks in. There are some of the bestselling authors in the world there, and some who’ve been working away for decades without ever breaking out. There are household names, and there are folks who won’t ever finish a manuscript, and there’s everyone in between. Comparison, as Teddy Roosevelt said, is the thief of joy, and it can be hard not to feel down about the writing game—or life—from time to time.
Recently, one of my wise friends gave us some great advice on one of our girls nights. Instead of saying, “My career isn’t nearly as good as hers,” add on a little word. Yet. Or right now. It puts things in a better perspective, doesn’t it? And it’s not just for career stuff…it could be anything. I am in a horrible depression…right now.Right now says it’s temporary. That it’s not a life sentence. I’ve never found the one sounds so final. Change that to I haven’t found the one yet, and it feels like much more of a real possibility, doesn’t it? Attitude, as I tell my kids, opens a lot of doors.
A few years ago, an author friend of mine was so frustrated. She’d written a really gorgeous book, and it just wasn’t selling, and she didn’t know why. It had everything going for it a book should…except sales. She told me she felt like she was shouting into the wind, and all she wanted was for people to read the book and let it touch their hearts. I commiserated; been there, done that. Some things are out of our control, I told her. Try to let it go.
What I should’ve said was, “The book’s not a bestseller yet, Jeannie.” Because lo and behold, a few years later, the book, which had been out for years now, suddenly hit a nerve, and landed on the USA TODAY bestseller list. Jeannie had kept at it. She’d kept writing. She hadn’t given up. For the rest of her life, she’ll have that title, and that’s a pretty great title to have: USA TODAY bestselling author.
Try not to compare yourself to other people and let yourself to feel small. There’s always a path to finding your way. You can do it. I know you can.
(To order Jeannie’s book, which is absolutely fantastic, visit www.jeanniemoon.com.)