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Now at no cost to you!

20 May 2013

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I’m not an accountant, but I like to get an idea of what things cost before I get into them. Writing, for example, is a fairly cheap enterprise: $400 or so for a bone-stock laptop (or, these days, a pretty damn good one) can set you up. Hell, $2.99 for a notebook and a stolen hotel pen can do you, if that’s how you roll. Your main investment after that is time, and that varies from writer to writer.

Submitting to agents and publishing houses can cost you time, money, and stress. Starting your own publishing company can set you back a few thousand bucks before you even get the word out.

Want something writing-related that costs absolutely nothing? How about encouraging another writer. Positive feedback and helpful suggestions cost nothing. If a friend asks you to read something, sure, there’s a time investment. But positive vibes to others who want to work in your craft? Totally free.

Here’s an example — and none of us know Dan Brown, but I’ll use him to illustrate a larger point, so let’s just all pretend we know him. When his most recent book hit last week, I saw plenty of writers I know immediately trashing it. Even if they didn’t shit on the actual story, they weren’t kind to him as a writer. A large part of it probably stems from the fact that several writers think Dan Brown’s prose and storytelling is substandard when compared to their own, which I’m prepared to admit might actually be true in some cases. But why does that matter?

The truth is that someone else’s success or failure in no way impacts your own success or lack thereof. If Dan Brown sells 15 billion copies of his latest work, that means exactly nothing for your chances of success. If he puts out a novel and only 18 people but it, that also means nothing for your chances. Your success — or failure — is not tied to anyone else’s. There’s not a limited number of “best selling author” slots in the world, and someone else failing to get there isn’t what’s going to push you onto the list.

I used Dan Brown in that example because he’s a multi-best-selling author who seems to get a lot of shit, but I’ve seen this happen on a much smaller scale, too. I’ve seen unpublished authors get upset when something they think isn’t as good as their own work sells 2,000 copies. I’ve seen published authors jealous of friends who outsell them.

Put simply, I believe you have three choices when it comes to this type of situation. One, to be happy for the success of your peers, whether they sell one book or 10 million. To encourage them to keep going, even if they’ve had tough rejections and still have a lot of work to do.

Two, apathy. Screw everybody else and worry about your own shit. In most areas of my life, I choose this option… except for in the case of other writers, where I choose option 1, above.

Three: Jealousy, anger, and publicly (or privately) shitting on the work of those who “aren’t as good as you.” This one’s definitely an option, but it ends up making you sound like a bitter cockbag. Also, getting back to the “cost” part of writing — why stress yourself out over what other people do or don’t do? Even apathy costs very little, but bitterness has a higher cost than I’m personally comfortable with.

Besides, angry, bitter cockbags just become old angry, bitter cockbags. People who encourage others grow up to be Kevin Smith and John Green.

Seems an easy choice to me.

End preachy rant. Anyone do something fun this weekend? I spent 12 hours slinging beer at inebriated Texans. It was kind of a blast.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 22 May 2013 0328

    Over the weekend I drove 400 miles, loaded all of my son’s earthly possessions in a truck, drove 400 miles again, then unloaded all of his earthly possessions (into my garage). No writing achieved either.

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