You might overhear it at a writing group:
“I finished my synopsis and couldn’t believe how easy it was! Why do authors complain about them so much?”
“I wrote ten thousand words in one sitting!”
“I’m so lucky. The first agent I queried requested a full manuscript and two others requested partials the same day!”
Hot jealousy washes over you and you can’t help but think your book baby should be more advanced! Then you begin with the guilt. Why didn’t I write last night instead of watching New Moon for the sixty seventh time?
But then you’ll hear more:
“I’m stuck. I can’t seem to finish this manuscript and I can’t seem to leave it either. I don’t know what to do.”
And you feel better. You might even feel the tiniest bit glad. Well, my book baby may be behind, but at least it’s finished!
Let’s face it. Every new writing career and book parent compares their book child to other books and careers. We’re human! We judge. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Biologically speaking, being judgmental keeps us and our babies alive and driven. But how do you know when you’re being too critical? Or worse, how can you identify when your need for your book baby to shine is alienating other parents?
First and foremost, don’t try to stop comparing. Thoughts are thoughts and our brains judge. Period. Trying not to will only expound your guilt. Instead, whenever you catch yourself doing so, nod, smile and remind yourself that every book baby is it’s own unique gift. There is no such thing as right or wrong, only the individual path. Even prodigy writing career babies that skyrocket to success come with their own nights of worry, days of panic and fears of inadequacy.
Second, when you do share milestones or fallbacks, consider your intention. Are you reaching out or pointing out? Reaching out inspires sharing, understanding, a plea for help. Pointing out may be an attempt to feel better by making a fellow parent feel worse.
Most importantly, go easier on yourself and your baby, regardless. Raising any writing career is a challenge but, you are not alone. So let go of the guilt, embrace you and your child as is and enjoy each moment. They grow up fast. You might one day look back and wish for exactly what you already have.