Monday, December 11, 2006

How Good Am I?

As writers, we all think we're better than we actually are.

I call this phenomenon "ugly baby syndrome." We all know people with ugly kids. Do these folks hide their children from the public? No. Proud parents that they are, these people hand out pictures of their ugly little progeny and ask the requisite, "Isn't she cute?" to all within earshot.

It's impossible to objectively view your own creation.

So when we write something, and the writing gets rejected, we all wonder what is wrong with the editor/agent/universe because they obviously don't know quality.

Unfortunately, believing in one's talents also encourages a sense of entitlement.

The fact is, you're never as good as you think you are, and no one will love your work as much as you do. Even you writers who say that you stink, you know deep down that you want someone to contradict your beliefs, to heap praise upon your work because you secretly believe it is worthwhile or else you wouldn't be writing in the first place.

As if this situation isn't volatile enough, we add Factor X to the mix.

Factor X dictates that anyone, at any time, with any degree of talent, can succeed.

There's no real rhyme or reason to success. No universal score keeper decides who gets a break and who still needs to pay their dues. There is no objective measure of talent that dictates the haves and the have nots.

We all try our best. Some make it. Some don't. Talent, experience, and hard work all may or may not be factors.

We all think we deserve success, but not all of us attain success, and there's no way to accurately judge if what we're doing is right or wrong, because we can't be objective, and because there is no clear cut path of right or wrong, no guarantees.

In fact, we might not even consider ourselves successful, even when other people believe we are.

Kind of a conundrum, ain't it? Especially since the business model for publishing, with returns and coop, is hardly ideal.

Unfortunately, all we can do is keep reminding ourselves of these three things:

1. It's our work that gets rejected or accepted, not us.
2. No one in this business really knows what they're doing.
3. All we have control over is how much we try.

On that note, MJ Rose is once again taking anonymous requests to send to the Book Biz Santa.

Ask Santa what you want him to bring you and the winner's favorite charity will get $100 for Xmas. Details at: