Monday, August 8, 2011

For the Love of the Story

There are countless times that I have asked myself why I write. Sometimes everything seems so frustrating and overwhelming that I feel like I'm torturing myself.

About a month ago an old friend announced that he had finished the first draft of his novel. Yesterday he announced that he was querying agents.

I kind of had a moment were I banged my head against the wall. The thing is, my friend is very talented in many things. He's an artist who is getting his first graphic novel published in a couple of months. He also found a way to raise money and publish his own coloring book.

The reason I banged my head against the wall was because I've been working so hard throughout this entire year and I'm no were near the querying process. I muddled up my first draft so much, I'm re-writing the ENTIRE thing. So I'm way behind in my goals.

I just had to ask myself why I couldn't seem to get my act together when my friend is sliding in to stardom with ease. (Really he is, everyone loves him and he might even get on the Conan 'O Brian show with his current project)

Then I remembered something I said, something others have said as well. That you can't compare yourself to anyone else.

Yes, some people can write 10,000 words a day, others seem to have all the lucky breaks, but I am me.

I have two kids who I want to nurture. And though I'm not perfect, I don't ever want them to think they are second best to my writing.

I can't just sit down and write like the wind, I really like to think things through and it takes me some time to get into a groove.

The fact is, I'm not perfect and I'm not fast. Sometimes things take longer than you want, but that's okay becasue you want to have the best possible results. Not everything is a fairy-tale especially when you are trying to write one.

What do you do when you find yourself comparing?


Executiveredhead said...

I do the same thing-there is time and room for everyone's success-all we can do is keep at it and try our best. Keep living your own story. You'll get there.

Kelley said...

Wow, I think it would be impossible not to be envious of your friend. The FB group sounds really original, but when I start comparing, I just remember, there's more than enough attention/success to go around, and when I'm ready and my stuff is ready, it'll happen. I totally believe the same for you because you're taking your time and doing everything really right. Good luck!

Krista M said...

When I find myself comparing myself to others' success, I remember that I'm not that other person. No matter how many times someone tells me that J.K. Rowling was rejected several times before getting published and is now one of the richest women in the world, that doesn't mean that it will happen like that to me. I'm fine with being patient most of the time and being who I am. :)

Brenda Sills said...

Oh my word! What a fantastic post! And I identify so much with it. I too feel overwhelmed and frustrated with all the must-do's of being a writer. And I want to spend lots of time with my kids.
I don't write like the wind either -I'm a slow writer, and I have to try and ignore when people post WAY higher word counts for their daily writing, etc, etc.
It's great for me to remember that I'm me and how I write is awesome for me.
I'm so happy to find someone who sounds so much like me in my writing! It's wonderful and refreshing after being bombarded by everyone's accomplishments that go way beyond mine at the moment. (Notice I said, "at the moment" - I"m being positive!)
It's so fantastic to meet you! Thanks for following my blog!

Sarah Pearson said...

It's human nature to be envious of others at times. But you're smart, you know the answers. You'll get there.

Remember the old saying? Do you want it fast or do you want it right? For you, right takes a little longer than some others - and there are others who will take longer than you.

The great thing is, you'll never look at your kids and think 'I missed you growing up'. You'll have it all, eventually, I know it.

Krista said...

What do I do when I find myself comparing?

Quickly think of some brilliant thing that I can do that no one else can (even if it is something I have to make up) and eat a piece of chocolate :)

Ava Jae said...

Comparing is such a dangerous trap that never makes anyone feel any better, and yet we do it's just so tempting!

When I find myself comparing, I remember everything I have accomplished so far and remind myself that everyone has a different journey. If that doesn't work, I just find a distraction until I'm not thinking about it anymore.

That usually works pretty well, too. :)

Best of luck to you! Don't worry about taking a long time--take however long you need for it to be right. The last thing you want to do is rush it.

cherie said...

I hear you, Jen! I'm the same way. I see writers on Twitter announcing their amazing word counts and I get a bit jealous. Why can't I write as fast as they can? How do they manage to pump out words in so little time? Do they really just sit and write the WHOLE DAY? Those things are just impossible for me and I sometimes wonder if I'm the one in the wrong here. I know we all have different situations/circumstances, so it is idiotic to even compare my wordage to say, a writer who doesn't have kids.

I've finally decided that it's ok being me. I maybe slow, and I can't write 1000 words in 15 minutes (because I almost always edit while writing, and I take too many pauses to think of the best word choice) but look at the tortoise--he beat the hare in the end. Maybe I'm neurotic and I need to make sure my writing is not crap before moving on to the next page or next chapter. The way I see it, when I finish the first draft it will be a lot cleaner and therefore will need less editing.


Chantele Sedgwick said...

I wish I could write 10000 words in a day. It would make my writing go a little bit faster. :) I have to write at night so I don't neglect my three little kids. When they're older they'll go to school and I'll have more time to write while they're gone, but while they're young, I have to be there for them all the time. It's hard being a mom, but totally worth it. My writing will always come second.:)

J. A. Bennett said...

I seriously have the best followers ever! Thank you guys for being there for me and understanding everything I'm going through.

I think you all are brilliant writers as well, and if you every need a little boost I will be happy to share the love!

Michelle said...

Comparing will kill us! For me, if it takes two hours to write a 3-paragraph post, I'm fine...because I was enthralled with my topic and invigorated by the power of putting my words down on paper (well, cyber-paper). And if tomorrow's post only takes 10 minutes, but I feel equally as happy with it, good for me.

You're absolutely right about having other important things in your life. And I'm sure you're book is coming along fine!

Michael Offutt, Evolved Monkey said...

Don't measure yourself by another's success. There will always be someone that can beat you in that category without exception.

You need to make yourself happy, to center yourself properly, and I think that once you do that and do yourself a favor, that the words will flow.

You will reach your goals in your own time and I'm sure that they will be amazing.

David P. King said...

When I find myself comparing with another, I go, "stop that!" and imagine my muse backhanding me across the face. Weird, I know, but it's effective! Being yourself is the best way to be.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I've found myself doing this lately, and I'm glad you wrote this post. Everyone has such great advice.
Oh, and I'm totaly with you on the kids thing. It's summer and I can't stay inside doing revisions all day. So, I go out to the park instead.
We'll get there though. I'm postive we will. ;0)

Rebecca Kiel said...

That's funny. I just put up a post on the "why" behind our writing. I took a slightly different angle, though. I have mixed berry jelly in mine.

TL Conway said...

I find myself comparing against others when it comes to blogging. I find myself wondering how do they have time to write weekly series on their blogs when I'm lucky if I can throw something up that is quasi-relevant.

When I feel the doubt start to creep in, I create a few blogs in the queue and turn back to my WIP. But the nagging, "What's the point?" questions are tricky to move beyond!

J. A. Bennett said...

TL - I totally have those "what's the point?" moments too. That's when I write posts like this, becasue they help me see the point :)

CherylAnne Ham said...

I'm right there with ya, head-banging and all. :D I just keep reminding myself that every writer has their own journey. Sometimes I think my journey stinks, but what can you do? LOL :D

You won an award on my blog today. Stop on by when you get a chance.

Abby Fowers said...

You're so right! You just can't compare yourself to anyone else. I am glad you wrote this because I feel the same way. I often get frustrated because I don't have more time to write BUT --- my kids are what take up that time and they are always my first priority. I may be a little slower, but I'll get it done! And you will too! Keep going girl, cause your day in the sun will is coming!

ali cross said...

I LOVED that last line. I used to compare myself more than I do nowadays--though recently I learned more about a couple people who intimidate me a bit who are working harder than I am. So what did I do? I figured out how I could step up my game and beat them at theirs!

Othertimes (most times) I have to just be okay with where I am--pretty much like you said. It's not always easy, though. Heck, it's NEVER easy.

Christa said...

After 3 days at a writer's conference, I had to get over comparing myself to anyone. I mean Judy Blume and Donna Jo Napoli were there....what could I say? It actually helped to see lots of writers who had been plugging away at this for ten years and still weren't quite there yet. They did it for the love of writing and it was a great reminder about patience and taking time to learn craft.

Melanie said...

Jen, what a crowning moment when you realize that you are who you are and we all have different talents. We need to strive to be the best we are. If we were all alike, the only books out there would be all the same. Thanks for being you and sharing YOUR talents with us.

I totally admire that your priorities are with your little ones. They are so sweet-looking and I am so glad they have such a wonderful and talented Mom.

Emily R. King said...

Jen, it's so hard not to compare. I feel your pain. The writing community can be destructive if we are constantly measuring ourselves against other writers. But the truth is, no one writes like you. No one will tell your story like you. Who cares how long it takes? It's yours, and no one can take that away from you.

Pam said...

It is sooo hard not to compare! When I was younger, I judged myself against a friend who was a wonderful writer, and got a book deal due to circumstances in his life that put in him the public eye for a while. Now that I'm older, I compare my progress to writers who don't have to have demanding full-time jobs and who write faithfully and extensively all most every day, and kick myself mentally or just get whiny and say "Why can't I be them." Then I try to remember exactly what you wrote here - because I am me, and there's a reason for that. Maybe something in the life that leaves me less time or energy to write is going to bring the inspiration that will get my words out there. Maybe, although I am not the fastest writer in the world, slow and (usually) steady will win the race too : ).

Dawn M. Hamsher said...

Very honest post.

I read a blog that said the person wrote an entire book in 2 months. I've been working on mine for 1.5 years. I was discouraged. What's wrong with me? Then I thought, "Hey, wait a minute! I work full-time and I have a family." I realized then that we can't compare. I write for the joy of it and steady is the race. I'll get there and so will you! Each at our own pace.