So I’m sure everyone’s heard about how we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. We always seem to be looking over the other the fence and thinking things aren’t going the way we’d hoped or planned. It’s a hard place to be to think we aren’t as smart/pretty/successful/strong/financially stable/whatever the new thing is today. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others, but it’s also toxic.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the Amazon pages of my fellow writers to see how my book is comparing to them. I’ve wasted a ton of time reading other people’s success stories for how quickly they found their agent and sold their perfect book and how everything was roses and then lamenting how my path had gone up until that point. But even an old bat can learn new tricks, and I’m starting to understand.
With agents and publishing, there are so many reasons things don’t work out. A really big one is that sometimes the book isn’t ready, but even more commonly, it’s just that the book isn’t super special to an agent or editor. I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve been reading through the entries on a pitch contest and absolutely fallen in love with an entry—to the point of “I would buy this based on this description alone”—and those entries get no requests.
Does it suck?
Oh yeah, it sucks.
Is it fair?
Ah, now that is an interesting and complicated question. Is it fair? In a heartbeat, no. But you know what else isn’t fair? I have friends who have written books and their writing is a million times better than mine. They write lyrical works of art, carefully constructing story arc and pacing. I write explosions and car chases, magic and wizards, and dragons(except for my contemporary stuff). Is it fair that I got a publishing contract for my car chases and dragons when those beautiful books that will make you cry make the rounds in the slush piles to no avail? Is it fair to be rejected because an agent had a bad day and your book reminded her of why she was having a bad day? It isn’t fair. If books sold by some metric that measured “how good a book is” who’s would we use anyway?
I know people who hate Twilight. I know people who didn’t commit suicide because they read Twilight and wanted to know how the next book went. Is it fair?
Life isn’t fair. But, I offer this other bit of terrifying observation on the fairness of life: If life really were fair, then you would have deserved all of the bad things that have ever happened to you.
So smile! Life isn’t fair. Maybe you don’t deserve your success, maybe you do. Who are any of us to judge? Life really isn’t fair, so try to enjoy the path your feet are on.