Feeling Envious of Other Writers? Here’s a Solution.

looking up

One of my favorite books is Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton. He takes a tour through history to discuss how humans can deal with feeling inferior to one another. I find it of particular relevance to writers, since so much of what constitutes success is about appearances (e.g., which publisher is more prestigious, who’s getting the “right” reviews or awards, who gets invited to speak).

So I especially enjoyed Melissa Yancy’s essay for the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, where she discusses the irresistible urge to look up:

Writer Anthony Doerr once told me something his father told him, and I’ll paraphrase it poorly here: You’re going to get your neck sunburned looking up all the time. I don’t think he was just speaking of ambition and envy, but focus—about where your eyes actually go. And if you’re focused on the literary lottery, you’re looking off in the distance, spending that unearned fortune.

She goes on to discuss how your story is where “the hidden owl is perched”—and that’s where you should try looking. Read Playing the Odds.

Also in this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin:

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
PJ Reece

Thank you, a timely piece for me as I wonder how I’m going to market my next work of fiction which I haven’t yet written. I woke pre-dawn with the realization that I need to narrow my focus — way down. No star-gazing, indeed. But I can disturb the hell out of ten thousand people along the remote west coast where I live. Compare myself to whom? I’m the only one.

[…] Jane Friedman: Feeling Envious of Other Writers? Here’s a Solution. […]

[…] read more https://www.janefriedman.com/feeling-envious-of-other-writers-heres-a-solution/ […]