And what I ponder today is self-judgment, and impostor syndrome. And how they afflict me.
Specifically, I suffer from both, sort of chronically. I'm finally starting to feel like a Real Writer some of the time. It's been what, three years since I sold my first novel? And yet I still have to remind myself, hey, I kind of know what I am doing here. *g* And then I get to go be the New Kid on panels with grrm. Where I am little and lost and squeaky behind the ears.
And I think I'm not alone in this. Sometimes, I hear from people, for example, who either love or hate the progress notes and the writing metrics in this blog. The ones who hate it usually say that they feel like it's competitive, or bragging, or worrying too much about a false metric (wordcount). The ones who love it find it inspirational, or reassuring, or amusing. Especially when I have egg on my face.
And the thing is, I recognize this in myself, when I read something in somebody else's blog and have a strong emotional reaction. And I have to remind myself that what I am feeling is usually projected rather than implied.
When I post a wordcount, in other words, I'm not saying "I wrote more than you today." I'm not talking about anybody but myself. The reason I post them is twofold: first, because if *I* can't see somehow, objectively, that I am making progress on a novel, I slide into these fits of self-hatred and black despair that you wouldn't believe. Wordcount is a lousy metric. But it shuts up the monster in my head that is only happy when I'm overworked. The other reason I post them is for the people who care, and find them interesting.
...there is no judgement implied. Just as there's no judgment of me implied when a friend of mine posts about her 5K-a-day word habit, or gets, oh, a movie deal, or a seven-figure contract, or a NYT best-seller, or sub rights sold in fifty thousand countries, or a major award. That's not about me. It's about them. The only one holding me up to that lamp is me.
...and it's crazy, because I can't control that shit. And this is not a zero-sum game. And the only one I am hurting when I indulge in a fit of jealousy over somebody else's Amazon ranking is me. If she sells more than I do, if she writes faster than me, or better than me, that's okay too. He's got hardcover contracts and I'm selling mass market? All right then! Something to shoot for. Still not on the best seller lists? Still not pulling down those six-figure deals? Hollywood not beating a path to my door? Shucky darn.
Still not King? Well, it's good to have goals. My professional jealousy is just that. Jealousy. Or possibly envy: it's not that I don't want him to have it. It's that I want some, too. (Well, except for that guy over there. He gets nothing.)
Because it's not about me. The only person I am in competition with is myself. To quote truepenny, if I try to compete with everyone and their dog, all I am are going to drive myself stark barking mad.
Which is, of course, why sometimes I need to remind myself of that.