Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

Blog / The Psychology of Writing

The psychology of writing

A serious post from Martha Wells.

“I’ve never had a book come out that met anybody’s expectations, and I’ve always felt like a disappointment, I’ve always failed the people who bet on me. This is a job I’ve been doing for twenty years, and in one big way, I’ve never been any good at it.”

This is more or less where I live, too. I’ve had books earn out, but I’ve never had one break out. I keep hoping, though. Maybe BLACK DOG will be the one that makes it onto shelves in Wal-Mart! You never know! It could happen! Lots of readers really love werewolves!

The truth is, it’s terribly important to define success in at least some ways that have nothing to do with any measurable criteria of commercial success. Winning an award. Being shortlisted for an award, whether your book eventually wins or not. A great review from Kirkus. A great review from someone whose taste you admire. A book on the shelves that pleases your readers. Or that pleases you.

And it’s terribly important to make a real effort to be happy for other authors who win better awards than you have (yet), who get more industry buzz than you have (yet), whose books are on shelves in Wal-Mart when yours aren’t (yet). A little jealousy, eh, that’s tolerable as long as you’re also genuinely pleased by the success of great writers who aren’t you. But envy is a terrible thing.

And in a world that generally focuses on the new and shiny, let’s hear it for book bloggers and readers who keep a little bit of their attention for great authors who have not yet had the commercial success they clearly deserve.

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