Somebody who loves me seated me next to Katherine Center at the speaker's dinner in Houston last month. Remember the wine that landed me in Guy Kawasaki's bushes last summer? They served that at the welcome reception at Mom 2.0. I blame it if I talked her ear off. It's a weak defense, but at least I kept my pants on.
A copy of her just-released novel, Everyone Is Beautiful,
was given to all the speakers, and I took mine with me to New York and Quebec. I read it in three flights, and was thoroughly charmed by it. More than that, I wasand this is what you want fiction to do affected by it. The main character, Lanie, became my friend. I got to know her. And she is still with me.
A lot of other people are going to get to know Lanie. "Everyone" got a very positive review in People magazine this week, accompanied by a photograph of Katherine's smiling face. It's all happening for her. I love when good things happen to good people.
Recently, a lot of people have been asking me for advice about writing and publishing, and I'm at a bit of a loss to offer any, except ignore most advice. The kind that is sweeping and general, anyway, where "always" or "never" is implicit or explicit. If I had heeded the always and nevers, I wouldn't have gotten very far. Conventional wisdom, as I've said before, is an oxymoron.
I don't have advice. I have a little experience, that is unique to me, and may or may not be helpful to you. Reading of Katherine's latest success today, and genuinely cheering it, reminded me of something essential I've learned: creative jealousy is poison I can't afford to drink.
During the years I was not writing, I couldn't bear to hear of other writers winning prizes and accolades. Somewhere deep down, I believed that they were using up all the talent and success, and there wouldn't be any leftover for me.
Sitting down to the keyboard and beginning this blog didn't cure my scarcity mentally overnight. But my focus began to shift as I rediscovered the pleasure of creating.
Chelation is a slow process. When I had something accepted for publication, I was happy for every single author to ever populate the bestseller list. When I was staring at another rejection, they could all go to hell.
Then I realized something. Successful creative people are surrounded by other successful creative people. They are seated at dinners with them. They attended launches and openings and award ceremonies with them. They collaborate on creative endeavors with them. Becoming successful in a creative life -- in anything-- means necessarily being around more and more people who are experiencing success. If I ever wanted to be there, I needed to practice being comfortable with it.
And believe me, I practiced. I applied the principle of "fake it till you make it." I forced myself to be happy for other people's dreams coming true until I actually felt it. It was some difficult soul yoga sometimes.
Today, it was no stretch at all.
I used to think success was a seesaw. If someone else was up, I must be down. I didn't realize I was the only person on the teeter totter all along. No wonder my end seemed to stay down. Now, I think of success as a carousel. It comes around, and goes around. Always room for one more.
Labels: the writing life