A friend of mine just hit 30,000 words in her WIP. She emailed to tell me her progress and we jumped up and down together in our separate spaces, writing thank yous and encouragement back and forth. She is embarking on her own version of NaNoWriMo and rocking the word count, staying one to two days ahead of her stated goal to give her room to grow but feels that the story is solid, she knows where it's going & is thrilled to pieces when she gets there and sees the ideas in her head take shape on the page.
She's telling me this because I am her friend, and what's more, I'm her writer friend and I want to see her succeed. I have been having a tough time lately, both personally and professionally, after the neck injury and a writing dry-spell, I decided to take a step back and get out of my own head for a while. I took one day to do a ton of errands, things I'd been meaning to do but hadn't managed to fit into my schedule, and invited my writing buddy to come along to keep me company. We drove for hours, stopping in this store and that, crossing things off my To Do list, grabbing lunch, and–this was the important part–we talked exclusively about her book. I dropped all my mental baggage, my niggling worries and woes, and shifted my full attention to her and her story. I got to be the reader, the soundboard, and learn. I listened to her talk it out from beginning to end, both of us paying attention to where the storyline got mushy or the specifics faded or words jostled together, hashing out problem scenes or asking tough questions, emerging from the day-long slog grinning like banshees and saying the exact same words at the exact same time, bursting into laughter as we said our good-byes. We were both pumped and ready to write. It felt great to be part of the success, to have a piece of the excitement, to be helpful and happy and have that fuel my own simmering stories. That day was a success, even if it wasn't necessarily my own.
I haven't been writing. I've been outlining, plotting, researching, planning–but not writing. But I'm not jealous of my friend's success, I'm thrilled for her! Her success in writing doesn't impede my own; in fact, it helps! I *want* her to succeed, not just as a friend, but as a fellow writer. I believe there's more than enough room at the top & plenty of success, however you define it, to go around and we creative-types are a generous lot. A not-so-secret secret of successful people is "if you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people." If you want to learn, listen. If you want some positive vibes, go out and share. I know there's a lot of fear when entering this business, worries about having ideas stolen or negating publication if you post things online or reading the latest Big News in Publisher's Weekly somehow means there's less room for your book and that leads to the envious Green-Eyed Monster. But I have to tell you, I don't believe it. Another person's success doesn't undermine your own.
Do you get that?
Don't believe me? I can prove it!
Many people look at successes like Harry Potter and Twilight and despair that they'll be no room at the top, that these books (whatever you think of them) eclipse their chances of publishing (pardon the pun), but, in fact, they've gone on to inspire greatness beyond themselves. J.K. Rowling's books arguably opened the gates for children's literature, fantasy in particular, and revived an international interest in MG and YA books. Twilight-inspired fan fiction became Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the largest publishing success stories ever (whatever you think of them). Success breeds *more* success, not less. There's more than enough success to go around and you and your book have a place in it *because* of the successes that have gone before you, the books and authors you love to read, the new tool that are available, the opportunities that are growing that let you put yourself out there. Don't be discouraged or depressed at someone else's success and somehow make that mean that your work (and I mean "your work" and never "you") is somehow diminished or the chances are slimmer because of that "very nice deal" someone else scored.
In fact, it makes things better. Another friend recently sat down with me over coffee and muffins and listened to me babble on about my story. I'll do the same for her. And so it goes.
I can't wait to hear what the word count is today!