By Diana Santelli
In life, we judge.
Consciously or unconsciously, we categorize people by the way they look or act or dress or speak. Or write.
Most often new writers are the guiltiest of this offence. We view everyone as a rival and decide our value as a writer based on whose works we’ve read recently or how many praises your work has received. After reading a new author, someone experiencing the Jealous-Writer Syndrome will often react in one of two ways. He will either:
A) Say “Wow, this is really good writing,” and then proceed to feel hopeless that he or she can one day too write at this level
Or B) Think, “Wow, I can write way better than that,” and allow themselves to experience a temporary ego boost.
If you too are guilty of ever harboring such thoughts—fret not. It’s ok. Sometimes jealousy happens, but from my own experience, it’s a whole lot healthier and a heck of a lot happier life when you’re not comparing yourself to everyone around you—and that includes your writing. Otherwise you’ll end up lonely and bi-polar.
Just don’t do it.
Because writing is such a hard business to break into, it is easy to see another writer’s win as your loss—but truth of the matter is, taste fluctuates. Many written works didn’t see the printer’s ink in their writer’s lifetime, but then lo and behold, many years later, are discovered to be rare and precious gems.
“Alright Diana, I see what you’re saying, but what if I don’t want to wait until I’m dead before someone will publish or read my work?”
That’s a fair question and to be honest, I’m not particularly fond of that idea either, but I will say, while there are few that make it to Elisabeth Gilbert or Dan Brown or Stephen King status, there are many, many more writers whose works gain fame or popularity on a smaller, localized scale.
There are so many outlets these days to “be a writer”. Either through entering competitions, or starting a blog, or writing for local or state anthologies or publications, or even joining a writers group (hint, hint). One has to start small. And not expect a big paycheck.
Instead, no matter how many stories you write or how many years you’ve officially dubbed yourself a “writer”, let yourself always be a beginner and allow yourself to learn from others. You’ll make more friends that way and you’ll give yourself more room to make mistakes and develop your art on your own terms.
Diana Santelli is a New Jersey expat living and working near Nürnberg, Germany. She has spent about three years abroad, working and living in places such as Slovenia, France, Switzerland, the UK, Belize and South Korea. She is co-founder of the Nuremberg Writers Group and recently won first place in her first short story competition for her story, Le Big Mac. She blogs about her American existence in Deutschland here at http://americanadeutsch.blogspot.com/.
Note: This piece originally appeared on the Nuremberg Writers Blog on 8.03.2010.