One of my sorrows about having missed the Perth Writers Festival was not getting to meet Justine Larbelestier, whose open-hearted and funny blog I adore. In a recent post, she offers entirely apt advice for those struggling with the whole writing/publishing/awards/reviews conundrum. I don’t know a writer alive who doesn’t have their own demons of doubt with some or all of the above, and it doesn’t get (much) better, no matter how published or successful you are. I remember, at the beginning of my writing career, reading Bryce Courteney – who is so successful he has his own font – complaining that he wasn’t considered a real writer by Australian reviewers because he wasn’t literary. If he’s insecure and niggly, just imagine how those of us who earn less than the dole from our writing income feel.
So, I share Justine’s wise words with you here. I suspect the advice, with modification, applies to most of life’s endeavours.
You can only control the book you write.
You can’t control whether you sell it. You can’t control how big the advance is if you sell it. You can’t control how much is spent promoting it. You can’t control how many copies Barnes & Noble takes or whether they take it at all. You can’t control whether punters buy it when it finally appears on the shelves. You can’t control the reviews. You can’t control the award committees.
Spending time and energy angsting about any of that stuff will only do your head in.
All you can do is write the very best book you can.
It will get published or it won’t. It will find its market or it won’t. It will sell or it won’t. It will win awards or it won’t. None of that matters if you’ve written the best book you can.