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:
- Dialogue: Something to Talk About by Gregory Wolos