Today, for your reading pleasure, some thoughts from Mercury Retrograde author Leona Wisoker, whose Secrets of the Sands comes out at the end of the month. This is Leona’s first trip through the wormhole of having a book published, and she kindly agreed to share some of the lessons learned:
As my first novel gets ready to go to press, I find myself more and more in the company of other professional writers, either in person or via blog, Facebook, and newsletters. It’s exhilarating to refer to myself as a professional writer, and more than a little unnerving. I bounce around and screech with joy over positive reviews, have an incredible sense of accomplishment, and of course I adore being able to hold the advance review copy of my first published novel in my hands.
But recently I came across a piece where an established writer talked about all the jobs and tasks she has completed in the past year. My first thought? Wow, she is busy. My second thought: I am soooo lazy. I can’t possibly call myself a professional writer; I haven’t even managed to sell any non fiction articles! And I don’t serve on any committees, or mentor writers, or. . . .
Then I started thinking about how easy it is to use a distorted measuring scale. Many of the writers I read about or speak to have many books out, often through and across multiple publishers, genres, and markets; they have won awards and have been at this way longer than I have. Bit silly to use someone like that as a measuring stick when you’re just starting out, isn’t it?
A quote from my favorite inspirational poem comes to mind:
“If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
That’s from the Desiderata, an awesome collection of advice that I think every writer should nail to their wall by their workspace. It tends to restore my perspective when I’m feeling particularly inadequate.
The most important quote in the whole thing, in my opinion, is:
“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”
Words to take to heart for all writers: we are notoriously hard on ourselves. So for anyone out there who fears they can’t possibly “make it” as a writer, don’t give up just yet; it took our idols some serious time and effort to get where they are now, no matter how easy it may look from the outside.
You’ll get there. Just take it one step at a time; but unlike climbing a ladder, looking up will only scare you. So don’t look up too often. Look down instead; that’s where you get the best – and least frightening – perspective on how well you’re doing.