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This Writing Life: Personal Journeys

6 December, 2013

A few days ago, whilst browsing the websites of other writers, I came across an author who’s had fairly decent success publishing short stories. In their blog, they were lamenting the fact that, until recently, they’d struggled to complete a novel, but I still thought their publication record an impressive one. And then I read a phrase that made my heart sink: ‘when I started writing five years ago’.

You see, when I read something like that, I can’t help but compare it to my own writing success, or lack of it. I’ve been writing now for over a decade, with not a single professional short story sale to my name. That this other writer had clearly begun to sell fiction so quickly and regularly after such a relatively short period made me wonder what I’d been wasting my time doing.

Then, though, I began to reconsider. I may not have sold any short stories, but then short fiction is something I rarely write and even more rarely finish. I may not have sold a novel, either – but I have written a good half dozen of them, honing my skills all the while. There’s also my serial fiction for Chronicles of Tyria, which I’ve been writing for over a year, and of course this blog, which has been going significantly longer.

It’s virtually impossible not to compare ourselves to other writers. It’s difficult, too, not to feel jealous at the success of others, particularly when it seems to have been either rapid or undeserved. All of this is human nature, and I sometimes wonder if anyone would strive to do anything if they weren’t trying to outdo someone else.

As writers, though, we all have our own personal journeys to undertake. It’s something of a sappy notion, admittedly, but I still think it’s true. For every sixteen-year-old with a million-pound book deal, and every bored housewife whose first rapidly-written novel is a bestseller, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of writers whose successes have been far less – and perhaps less than your own, too.

So whenever you look at another’s success, and whenever you’re inclined to enviously compare it with your own, just remember that every writer’s journey is different, unique, but no less fascinating – and that we all have to get where we’re going in our own time!

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