Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Post: "Around and Around the Writer's Carousel: Comparisons Are Evil" by Brenda Stokes Barron

Fellow writer Brenda Stokes Barron and I are exchanging guest posts today on each other's blogs. She posts at The Digital Inkwell and tweets at @digitalinkwell. She's also half of the editing team (with her husband, Matt Barron) behind Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi. Yep, that's the publication which just ran my "Twenty-Seven Rules for Coping" earlier this week, though the timing is just a coincidence.
If you want to read my thoughts on the subjectivity of writing advice, stop by her blog to see my guest post there. For the moment, though, let's take a ride on the carousel...
Trying to sell stories and make it as a writer can feel like a ride on a demented carousel. It starts out pleasant. The fittings are polished brass and the gentle round and round of write-submit-rejection is amusing, almost fun. Then you make your way around the carousel for the thirtieth, fortieth, hundredth time. The polished brass is looking a little green. The horses are turning their heads back at you and snarling. The music has gone tinny and off-key.

In short, writing and submitting and getting rejected starts to suck. Especially when it feels like everyone around is racking up acceptances left and right.

You have two choices. Get off the ride now. Give it all up. Life would be easier without that giant carousel in your living room, anyway.

Or, you could try not to feel sorry for yourself. Refuse to get off the carousel. Choose to look at those steeds' sneers as encouraging smiles. In short: hang around for the ride.

And that's all you can really do. Write, submit, and write something else. If you look around at what everybody else is doing, your particular writing carousel might start to look bleak and uninviting. And that's not productive. Feelings of inadequacy won't get you published any faster. Comparing your progress and your work to other writers won't help you achieve your goals. It only serves as a distraction.

This business might be tough and rejection-laden, but the only way to get anywhere is to keep going around and around. Don't get off the carousel. Keep your head forward. Ignore that carousel to the right of you with its fancy bright lights and fresh coat of paint. It has nothing to do with you.

Just write, submit, write some more.

Stick around for the ride.


  1. Absolutely! It's all about subjectivity and finding your perfect match!

  2. So true! When I started writing ~12 years ago, I did it for fun, fanfic because I hated the way a favorite TV show ended. A couple years later, started writing novels, and never looked back. With every story, it gets better. I'm just now getting to the point where I'd be willing to show it to anyone for actual publication. I'm not afraid of rejections. Much like dating, it's about finding that person who understands what you're doing, and knows how to make it work.

  3. Thanks for stopping by Cate, Jamie, and Leigh! Glad to hear that you enjoyed the guest post from Brenda.

  4. Thanks for reading everyone and thanks, Michael, for hosting me today :)

    1. You're very welcome. We'll have to do this again sometime.