The Greener Grass

by Samantha Hoffman

I think we writers often look ahead and think _______________________ (fill in the blank from Column A below) when I _______________________ (fill in the blank Column B below). 


My life will be perfect  Finish my (great American) novel
My goals will be met  Find an agent
I'll be happier Get a book deal from a publisher 
I'll find love Am paid a large advance from said publisher 
I'll have fans all over the world See my book on the New York Times best seller list 

It's important to dream. And hard can it be? If _____________ (fill in the blank) can do it, why can't I?

Many of us suffer from author envy at some time or another, even the most successful of us, because are we ever good enough? We envy the one who finished their book before us or got it published first or finished a second book or got 10 great reviews on Amazon or a book review in The New York Times... 

I confess, I envy my friend Ann Garvin. She's not the only writer-friend I envy but I'll tell you about Ann because she is living the life I want to live: she has four published books and another in the works, she has an agent and publisher who believe in her, they want her to keep writing and they're paying her to do so. Not to mention that she's a USA Today bestselling author and she has great hair.

Because Ann is a dear friend of mine I know this life isn't all champagne and balloons. It's hard work. Writing a novel is a bitch. You need little things like interesting characters and a story arc and conflict and...well, you know. When Ann tells me about the pages she received from her editor with red notes on every page I think, "Wah, wah, wah. You have an editor and a publisher. They want your work to be the best it can be so they can sell millions of copies."

Actually, I say that to her and she says, "Yeah, I know." Because she's talented and she knows how lucky she is and she's grateful.

She worked hard for it. Here's why she's successful:

  • She never gave up

  • She kept writing even when it was hard or she felt uninspired

  • She's dedicated

  • She's motivated

  • She believes in herself

  • She's disciplined

  • She's thoughtful

And she's going to kill me for this post. But it's all to say that while it's okay to envy other writers, you can actually be that person. The grass is always greener and all that, but it doesn't green-up all by itself. Use that person as a role model. Follow their lead. Do what they do. 

I'm going to be Ann Garvin when I grow up (without the great hair).

In case you think it's easy, read Ann's blog post about working on her latest novel (the post is poignant and entertaining, and stick with it because the writing lesson is at the end):

Here's a Story I Don't Tell Very Often
by Ann Garvin

Here’s a story I don’t tell very often, but it’s time.
I’m six years old and it’s Christmas morning. The gifts have been opened. My father is sitting in the bedroom reading. Is he in a good mood? Is he sulking? My dad is the proverbial box-of-chocolates dad; you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s caramel but more often, he’s one of those hard toffees that get stuck in your teeth.
My mom gestures to me with a smile, has me try on my new pink, quilted bathrobe, the one I opened in the early morning dark by the multi-colored lights of the traditional Christmas eve tree we cut down the day before.
She brushes my long hair into a tight ponytail, attaches a white bow to the hair tie. I probably wince as she secures it. I know what she is doing; smoothing me out, tidying me up. We paint our nails Frosted Seashell.She opens a matching pink umbrella with a new plastic smell and hands it to me.
“Let’s go show your dad,” she says. The expression on her face is warm fireplace, hot chocolate, and tenderness.
We walk into the bedroom, one pretty in pink, one pretty in love.
My dad looks up from the New York Times and says with a tone that’s all mockery, “Isn’t she pretty? Isn’t she the daintiest thing? Isn’t she adorable?” He draws out the four-syllabled word to prolong the teasing.
I don’t know what threatens him about seeing me without my usual mass of unruly hair, my striped shirt, and scuffed tennis shoes. There’s no love in his tone, even though this cleaned-up version of his daughter is what he often asks for: “Brush your hair. You look like Gravel Gertie.”
“Ann, if you don’t stop talking I’m going to strap you to the roof of the car and use you for a siren.” “Hey, tugboat, no dessert for you.”
I don’t remember my mother’s reaction. I only recall the spear of hot indignation low in my belly, radiating out to my diminutive fist. I narrow my eyes and quick, like an adorable bunny backed into a corner, I pull my arm back and punch him in the face, breaking his only pair of glasses.
The rest of that memory is a blur. I remember being hauled like a wildcat into my room shouting, “It’s not fair!” Read the rest of Ann's post HERE

BTW, you can meet Ann at Let's Just Write! An Uncommon Writers Conference. She's one of our most popular presenters.

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