I haven’t had much book news to announce this year, which means that quite a bit of my social media time (which I’ve cut back on anyway in the interests of my new year’s resolution, breathe) is spent watching other people announce new and exciting things. Which is fine. (Great, even, because some of these people I admire and respect and I adore their work.) I feel like this is just kind of the nature of the business: sometimes things are faster, sometimes things are slower, sometimes you have news, sometimes you don’t, sometimes the successes are public, sometimes they’re private.
But all this has gotten me thinking about advice I see often: Eyes on your own paper. Run your own race. Comparison is the thief of joy. In general, I think all of these pieces of advice are about the understanding that everyone’s writing and publishing journeys are different, and that your attention should be on your own path, not someone else’s. Which is such a great way to look at things, I think, because it means there is no comparison. It’s apples and oranges! It’s apples and teak trees! It’s apples and targeted online advertisements or stone quarried on some distant Scottish isle! My career doesn’t look like Famous McAuthor’s because our careers are as different as banana split sundaes and a bouquet of carnations! They are both things, for sure, but they are so different that it’s not even worth trying to compare the two.
Which brings me to this other thing I’ve been thinking about--perspective. I think, when I’m watching great things happen for other people, I can come at it from one of two standpoints: 1) a place of envy, or 2) a place of gratitude. When I look at things from a place of envy, I focus on what I don’t have. I think about how much I want a bouquet of carnations. I think about how pretty it would be, how chic, how good it would look in my room, etc. And I spend so much time wishing for that bouquet of carnations that I forget that I have anything else, including an awesome banana split sundae!
When I look at things from a place of gratitude, however, I focus on what I do have. I have banana. I have ice cream. I have chocolate sauce. I have sprinkles (and I love sprinkles). This is not a bunch of carnations, okay, but this is still a lot to be grateful for. And when I start to think about all the things I have to be grateful for, I stop worrying about not having carnations. In fact, it doesn’t even matter anymore that I don’t have a bouquet of carnations because I have all this other great stuff.
It’s not always easy to come at things from a place of gratitude, so I try to make it a practice to say thank you. I say thank you in emails. I send thank you notes. I bring thank you gifts. I don’t want to take any part of my banana split sundae for granted, because none of it is guaranteed, and it’s likely that none of it will last.
Which brings me to this: Thank you, readers. We’re over halfway through my year of Work and Process now, and sometimes it feels like no one is paying attention to these little posts on craft and creativity. But for whoever’s out there, checking out these posts every week (or even just once or twice this year), thank you for reading. Thank you for being part of my journey, and if anything at all I’ve written has struck you or stuck with you, thank you for allowing me to be part of yours, too.