by Barb, still in Key West
Our readers get to see the blog posts, but as we’ve told you before, there’s a lot the goes on behind the scenes here at Wicked Cozy Authors, Inc. The Wickeds cheer each other on as we struggle through first drafts, race toward deadlines, wait anxiously for word from our editors that a manuscript has been accepted, or from our agent that a series has been sold. I can’t tell you how much that moral support has meant to me.
But, as a result, I’ve learned a lot about my fellow Wickeds work habits.
Julie can plot a whole book before she writes it. I can’t do that. Jessie can write more than 5000 first draft words in a sitting. I’ve never done that. Sherry can write the beginning, then write the end, then swoop back and do some of the middle. I did that once with a short story, but I’ve never achieved it with a novel. Liz can balance writing two series with a full-time, serious job. I couldn’t do that when I was her age, and I certainly can’t do it now. And Edith can complete her entire daily word count before I am even out of bed.
This is all fascinating, and believe me, I am happy for the skills and achievements of my friends, but sometimes, when I compare myself to them, I feel a little…envious. It’s the Invidious Comparison.
I was lucky to have a lot of mentors when I was coming up in the corporate world, and it was one of them who explained to me, when I was quite a young manager, the Invidious Comparison.
The Invidious Comparison.
So every morning, when I tumble out of bed and see that Edith has posted that she’s already made her word count and is off to have fun adventures on the day, I’m a little jealous.
Or I might plan a long weekend and think I am going to write 15,000 words in three days, like Jessie. But I will inevitably fail. And send myself through a whole guilt, grief cycle which will waste even more time.
The Invidious Comparison.
It’s ridiculous, I know. If I got up and got my word count done like Edith does, I’d be obliterating my absolutely favorite thing about not having a corporate job–sleeping in and staying in my pjs until after my second cup of coffee. I love it. It makes me so happy.
And if I were capable of binge-writing, first of all, it would make me an even worse procrastinator than I am. And secondly, it would take me back to the way I wrote when I had kids and a full-time job, which I didn’t enjoy nearly as much as I enjoy my writing schedule now.
I can’t do what they can do.
So I have to play to my strengths–to wit, a certain relentlessness, and a great fear of shame in the public square if I turn in a really awful book. Or no book at all.
It works for me.
Each of the Wickeds has different strengths, different weaknesses and different ways of working. When I’m seeing clearly, I know that’s part of what makes it all work. It’s part of what goads each of us to be better and try new things. But if we try them, and they aren’t helpful, it’s fine to set those new things down and move on.
People love to tell you that if you don’t do such and such, you can’t write a book.
“If you don’t get up at 5:00 every morning and have your word count done by 10:00 am, you can’t write a book.”
“If you don’t write everyday, you can’t write a book.”
Poppycock. The disempowering message from these morons is, “You can’t write a book.”
But you can. You can produce one book every ten years if you want to. You can write only when the moon is full. You can self-publish a 400 page tome every three months. Do whatever you want.
Because if you’re not doing what you want, why are you doing it at all? There are plenty of easier ways to pass the time.
But when you choose one path, you can’t be jealous of the other people who go down a different path, and do it a different way, and find success.
Because that’s the Invidious Comparison.