I belong to a number of on-line writing groups and in general, I've found them really useful. First, it's a way for me to get to "know" other authors in my genre. Writing can be a lonely business, especially when you live overseas as I do.
Second, the writing groups offer support, advice, professional information and marketing opportunities. I can share what I've learned with new authors and can learn from the veterans.
There is one problem with these groups, though. It's difficult to avoid comparing myself to my peers. I don't write as a full-time career, so I'm not nearly as prolific as some of my colleagues. I'm also new to the romance genre, relatively speaking. I don't know what works from a marketing perspective. Actually, I don't always "get" what readers want from romance. My sales so far are modest. Although I don't make my living from my writing, I still find a nice fat royalty statement to be a great affirmation.
Recently a well-known author, whom I greatly respect, commented that her very first book had sold 500 copies in the first month it was available, and that this was pretty typical of most of her releases.
Five hundred copies? In one month? I don't think I sell that many copies in a year. The green eyed monster immediately reared its ugly head. I was so envious--well, the comment put me in a bad mood for days.
Envy is a highly destructive emotion. It can poison your self-esteem and your sense of well-being. It can undermine external relationships, too. Every time I thought about her, I got this churning feeling in my stomach--despite the fact that she has helped me personally with information about ebooks and markets.
Fortunately, there's a tried and true antidote to envy: gratitude. When I look at my writing career, I see that I've been far more fortunate than many of my peers. My debut novel was accepted, enthusiastically, by the first publisher to whom I submitted it. I contrast this with some authors who tried for years to break into the publishing game before they finally succeeded. I may not have as many books out as some of my peers, but I've got a good, solid publishing history Furthermore,my acceptance to rejection ratio is very high; when someone rejects one of my stories, I tend to be shocked. Obviously I'm very spoiled!
I seem to have some difficulty getting my work reviewed, but most of the reviews I do receive are positive. For instance, I recently was rated as a Five Angels "Recommended Read" by Fallen Angels for my historical ménage short story "Monsoon Fever". Maia wrote:
I loved this story! Monsoon Fever is not only an extremely sexy read, it's also pitch perfect with place, attitude, and voice, with enough politics and society observations to please the most discerning reader.
You can read the whole review here.
How can I possibly stay envious?
I got a new lesson in gratitude recently, when friend and colleague Anna Kathryn Lanier hosted guest author J. Aday Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy is a successful children's author, despite the fact that she is paralyzed from a stroke. She started writing after the stroke, in order to do something useful with her time. I was awed by this woman's courage and persistence.
What do I have to complain about? I've got my own room to write, my own laptop, no kids to interrupt. I've got a supportive husband and good relationships with my editors. I'm healthy, for the most part, and the physical problems I do have are annoying rather than life threatening.
Begone, green eyed monster! I'm a very lucky lady. And I don't want to waste my time on envy when I could be writing!