On Twitter today — and everyday — there was some chatter and scuffle about Some Authors’ Careers and Some Authors’ Fame and whether they had deserved it. Some folks invariably said the chatter and scuffle was jealousy. Some others invariably said not everything is jealousy.
Here’s what I think: having a writing career is like driving a race car.
I’m not really a grand race car driver, mostly because I’ve discovered that I don’t really care about winning against anyone but myself, which turns out to be not the point of organized sports. But I have been in race cars, and on race tracks, and have spent many hours doing classwork at over 70 mph. Enough to know that a writing career is a lot like driving a race car.
One of the things they teach you in every single form of car racing is to keep your eyes up. Up. Upper than that. Upper than even that. Don’t look at the dash, because then you won’t see what’s happening on the road. Don’t look at the road right in front of you, because you won’t see that the turn you’re going into links into another turn and you could set yourself up for both. Put your eyes up as far as you can see down the road, and look there. Only when you see the absolute farthest point can you start to calculate the best way of getting there.
(this is great advice to use when you’re driving normally, by the way)
A writing career is like that. Use your peripheral vision to look at the things that are coming at you day to day, but never forget that every decision should contribute that farthest-away-point you want to get to. Never forget that every tiny success and failure is just a steer or counter steer toward the real point of the thing.
And here’s the other thing they tell you about keeping your eyes up: don’t fixate on the person in front of you. If there’s another driver just in front of you, the tendency is to stare at their bumper and then take the turn just like they do. But guess what? Then the absolute best scenario is that you will take the turn just like they do. So if they’re taking it wrong, you’ll take it wrong too. If there’s a better way, a faster way, a cooler way, a way that involves painting a giant knife on the side of your car and listening to Finnish rap very loudly, you’ll never know.
Eyes up, drivers, they say: look past the car in front of you. All you need to do is to note them well enough that you can pass them when you find a better way to take the turn.
Don’t fixate, writers. Eyes up, writers. I don’t care if x or y is doing a or b. What does that have to do with me? I have my eyes on where I want to go, and no one else matters.
The race is Maggie vs. Maggie. Who are you competing with?
reblogging this because the writer-envy piece in yesterday’s Salon hurts my soul on a most basic level.
It’s ludicrous to go comparing yourself to/being jealous of other writers. It’s meaningless. No one is going to write like you, even if they use the same themes and tropes, and there is no telling why one writer’s thing hits big and why the same ballpark thing, two years earlier, didn’t. You may as well get angry because Jonathan Livingston Seagull hit big and your pelican book didn’t, or for my generation, Harry Potter. It doesn’t work.
You could put twenty writers in a room, give them the same idea, and they would write twenty different things. It’s absurd to be jealous. And the person who strives to write what the market demands or what is “hot” right now will fail, because markets and audiences change faster than the publishing system can turn books out.
All we can do is write what we want to write and understand that making ourselves happy is all we may get to do. And, if we’re lucky, we’ll make a bit of money. But we can’t guarantee we’ll write a bestseller. No one can. If you’re jealous of other writers, you’re simply wasting your own time and energy. If you compare yourself to other writers, the same applies. The only writer you should worry about, apart from reading for pleasure, is you. You’re the only writer who matters then.
A reading I did of Edgar Allen Poe’s A Dream, using my Tom Hiddleston voice.
If you don’t know your personality type, take the test here.
Tagged by: sweetoceanclouds
Rules: Find out what characters share the same personality type as you here and list the characters that you find relevant below. Then tag five friends and let them know you tagged them!
Rebecka had honestly never been happier in her whole life. Not when she got the typewriter, the one like her grandparents had and she played with as a child, not when her parents took her to England, not when she first saw Magnus chopping wood in the Swedish summer sunshine, not even when she spent that night with him in the abandoned cabin. She had never been as happy as she was in this moment, as he played with her, as he leaned over and kissed her and a camera flash went off again.
The planner pulled them behind the cake and she was smiling as Magnus kissed her again and the crowd applauded. She held his hand as he held the knife for the cake and she looked at the planner.
"Hey hey," Ansgar said as he approached the table and Dagny looked at him and then at Magnus, confused.
Rebecka didn’t say anything. She didn’t move.
It was happening again, only this time, it was even more ridiculous. There was nothing, or no one, who could cast any doubt on how Magnus felt today…or any other day for that matter.
Dagny could accuse her of stealing writing, try to ruin her career, but if she was trying to insinuate that Magnus…somehow…with her…
“Um, then let’s go ahead and take off your rings and give them to the maid of honour and the best man, and I will…” the woman went on to describe the ceremony and Rebecka pretended to listen, but all she could think about was him not holding her hands. He had given her his hands freely that night in the little chapel. She had cradled his hand, palms up and open, and they had said the words that sealed their vow…but not now.
She slipped her wedding ring off her finger and handed it to Stina, without looking in her sisters eyes. Stina would see, Stina would know. Everyone would know.
Rebecka couldn’t speak and the smile evaporated from her face.
Magnus was smiling as he moved his hand over her skin and he was leaning up to kiss her neck and her shoulder, but then she seemed to tense and he was pulling back and looking up at her.
She wasn’t smiling, she wasn’t moving, she was… She wasn’t doing anything, but he knew that something was wrong and he was looking at her with great concern.
Rebecka woke up when he jolted awake. She had seen him have nightmares before, his legs and arms involuntarily kicking and moving on the bed.
“Hmmm? Good morning, love…” she said as she moved to lay on the bed next to him, her robe falling open at the front. She wrapped her arms around him again. “This is what it’s going to be like from this moment on, do you know that? I get to wake up next to you every morning…”She said as she touched his jaw. “I think that’s fucking awesome.”
Magnus looked up at her when she said that and for a moment he didn’t say a thing, but then he reached over and he took her hand.
"Rebekca, I was… last week, my accident I was… they said it was just a routine check on him and I went because you know… I volunteered and I was stupid, fifteen minutes later he was strangling me, he had me from behind and he had his forearm against my neck and cutting off my air. The only thing I could think of was you, that… we’d barely started our lives and I was already leaving it." Magnus shook his head, "You have no idea how close my life is to death, all the time I think… we can call something like that routine and…"
Magnus looked at that phone later that night and he smiled, he resisted the temptation to send her a goodnight text or to call her. No, Ann-Britt had said that the silence might make it more romantic tomorrow to see that he had come all the way. He wondered where Ann-Britt got her ideas from but maybe she was just a romantic that had a student willing to learn from her.
He had his bags packed for the next day and Magnus’ voice was now so good that it sounded like he had a rough cold, and it wasn’t even hurting anymore when he spoke, which was fantastic. He could also eat more soft solids which meant that tomorrow he could eat a normal meal with Rebecka (though he’d miss her feeding him).
A Family Affair, by detektivmartinsson.
He smiled as she hugged him tighter and he twisted on the bed so that they were both side by side and tangled in each other. Magnus leaned his forehead against hers and he touched her forehead with his finger and then her nose and then her lips.
Magnus kissed her.
It was strange not being able to talk, not being able to tell her what he wanted her to know, what he needed to say. He couldn’t tell her that he loved her, that he was going to miss her, he couldn’t wish her luck on her school exams.
He could only hold her and touch her and hope that she understood.
Rebecka had been dying to ask him but she knew how he was, she knew he didn’t like to talk about those things, especially right after they happened. She would get him to tell her eventually, but perhaps he would be more open with her family, since he was trying to win their favor.
Magnus turned to them and he realised they wanted him to explain the injury. He was torn. He didn’t talk about work outside of work, it got too complicated and he didn’t like it to impede on his life more than it already did, but this was Rebecka’s family, they had been at the hospital they could see that something had happened and he should tell them… he should tell Rebecka.
[ Do I have to talk about it? ]
Well, that sounds like it was quite a conversation…but please don’t smack her though. She likes what she likes. Her ideas are her own, and a lot of people share them with her.
My problem becomes when those people believe that their opinion of a character is somehow more valid than mine, or yours.
It is simply theirs, or different. It is shaped by their experience, or their ideals or their hopes and dreams for how they wish things were.
The reality of things is that there are characters (and I suspect we are talking primarily about women now, because this is a subject that gets talked about a lot. Correct me if I am wrong) who CAN take care of themselves, and who ARE strong and independent and don’t NEED or WANT love to accompany them on their journey.
There are people like that. I know a few people like that. They have their work and their siblings and their friends and they love food and travel and they have great careers and they are happy and fulfilled. They are not strong because of it, they are human.
But there are people who need love, who want love, who find love and who make it last. I swear to you, there are those people and because of that, it is no less correct to make those people characters. They are not weak because of it, they are human.
Some may not like what that says, about ourselves, about society. Some may argue ad nauseum that the characters who want and need and find love are weak and they are boring and they should be eradicated… but honestly, their arguments say more about themselves than the characters (or writers of those characters) they are criticizing.
For myself, I love love. I love reading about it and thinking about it and feeling it and sharing it. And I don’t feel that simply because I am a woman and I love love that that makes me weak. That is one sided, two dimensional, unrealistic.
I love reading about people falling in love and the things that they notice while in that state. I love the euphoria, the way people’s senses become heightened, they way they find out things about themselves they never knew.
I love that falling in love with someone can be falling in love with all the parts of yourself, all the things that you thought boring or inconsequential or never even knew were there! When you see them through someone else’s eyes, suddenly they become…wonderful.
That is why I write about people falling in love. Because for me, love(and not just sexual love but all love) is the reason we are here.
We were made to love,(and at the risk of sounding like an idealistic new age hippie) each other and the world.
So I hope that you and your friend can have a discussion about it without it becoming an ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ argument, because then one or both of you is missing the point. You are both right, for yourselves and if your friend can’t see that and allow you to have your opinion, than they are really not the kind of friend you want to have.
That is control and aggression, and no one has time for that shit!
Thank you so much for reading!
I utterly agree with said comment.
If we are talking in a realistic life, I know people that love love and love being loved, and I know people that don’t need love and are fulfilled with other things in their life; art, passion, work, travel. I’m one of those people that have never depended on love as something that I need in my life, I find it hard to find it and hard to deal with so I don’t, I push it aside because to me I don’t need it to be fulfilled or happy, but I like to write about love. And not… not love at first sight love but complicated love, love that’s hard and difficult, and love that my characters don’t notice when it’s there and look for when it’s not.
I enjoy writing when love stops being about lust and desire and the need to have someone close by and it starts becoming about how someone holds them, about how someone smiles at them, at how they eat their food and how they laugh at jokes. There are all types of love in the world and though I don’t particularly respond to things like that, I like writing about it because it’s not typical.
The thing about writing fictional love is to make it realistic to YOUR character. If someone is independent and doesn’t believe nor trust in love then you shouldn’t write them meeting someone and having *snaps fingers* an instant connection that pushes everything away. There should be doubt and struggles and denial and all those things that go along with it. And if it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t and if it does then it does, you are not your character, you can’t be saying ‘I’LL NEVER LET THEM FALL IN LOVE’ because it might just happen when you least expect it and your characters might grow from it and learn something about it and even if it breaks their heart then… that’s life.
The stories I write with Bec-Mun just go to show that one type of person that desires love can work with someone that doesn’t even notice it’s there. Magnus used to want to be loved but he made himself stop believing in it, he made himself hard and difficult to get to and to keep denying it, he’s a hard man to get to and a hard man to love and then Rebecka came along and god it is fucking hard to make him realise that there is love there, you read our threads and you can see Magnus stopping every time there’s love because he doesn’t want to believe it, he doesn’t’ want to rely on something so fickle.
But then he realises that it’s happened, and now there’s a level of happiness beyond what he had and he couldn’t have reached it without her. And it’s not the same; the happiness of love isn’t the same as the happiness of a happy life. And it’s not for everyone, it’s not all the same, love is different in all sorts of ways and so there really is no argument here because love is just… different.
So as for the original argument. There are characters and people that don’t need love to be fulfilled but that’s not the same for everyone. Your friend may think that there’s only one way of love and that might be fine for her but it’s not the same for everyone. As long as you don’t push it onto your character and make them unhappy as well. We all know characters are all fictions and only exist in our mind but for some reason if they are unhappy they stop working in your mind and replies are hard to come by and the zap that makes them alive stops zapping. You can’t push your characters into love and you can’t keep them away from it when it’s their time to. Just keep it realistic to your character, keep it realistic to your plot and thread.
Perfectly stated, as usual! That’s why we are a good team!♥
He nuzzled his lips on her neck, kissing her and then looking at the time. He nudged her and he kissed her lips as he pointed at the time; it was nearly two o’clock, time for them to go and see her parents.
Magnus kissed her one last time before he covered her with the towel, letting her relax for a little while longer as he grabbed his clothes and went to the bathroom. His throat was hurting like hell and he grabbed his medication and read when the next time he’d have to take it will be.