At the recent retreat I attended in Michigan, friend and fellow author Robin Jones Gunn (photo at right) spoke about the importance of not comparing our writing careers (or anything else) to another writer's. This wasn't a new lesson for me. I've been in this business too long not to have had to deal with this, especially when there have been disappointments — and like everyone else, I've had lots of disappointments. But it was a good reminder.
When I opened my study Bible last week to read the last two chapters of John, what did I see but a note on John 21:21-22 that reads:
The note I'd written in the margin on June 4, 2000 said:
I learned early on, while I was still writing for the ABA, that there would always be someone getting higher advances, getting better reviews, climbing higher on the bestseller list, getting more publicity. It isn't any different in the CBA. All those things remain true.
An author has to work with her publisher to try to help her books reach more readers. I often have conversations with my agent and my editor on ways we can grow sales and reach readers who have never heard of Robin Lee Hatcher. This is just good business. And of course I look at marketing other authors have used and try to glean ideas that will work for me. But I have to remember not to compare myself or my books, not to say, "But Jesus, what about her?" Because if I do say that, I know His response: "What is it to you what I'm doing with her books and her life? You follow Me!"
So if you're an aspiring writer who has completed several manuscripts, don't compare yourself with your writing buddy who just sold her first manuscript. If you've been in a business — any business — for what feels like an eternity but you can never seem to quite get ahead, don't compare yourself with others who seem to have had it so much easier (chances are, they haven't). If you're a married woman feeling like life is too complicated, don't compare things with your unmarried friends. Look forward. Look up. Follow Jesus. Let Him worry about others.
I'm following, Jesus, the very best I can. Help me to look at You and not over my shoulder at "John." Amen.
cross-posted on Writes of Passage