Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

There's an ace in every deck

Recently I've found myself becoming discouraged by other writers' success. People I know or writer friends of people I know have gotten published or are receiving media attention, and it gets me down. I'm happy for them, but it's a reminder of how much I haven't done.

KJ Grigoriadis shared a poignant anecdote with me and I want to pass it along:

At a sales demo, a man invites two women to sit in chairs on the stage, one to either side. He hands each woman in the chair a deck of cards and tells them, "Find the ace. When you find the ace, hold it up and shout, 'I found it!' and I'll give you ten dollars." Meanwhile three people stand behind each chair and call to the women, encouraging, discouraging, or hurrying them along, setting up a powerful distraction. At a word from the man, the women begin searching for their ace. After a few moments, one woman finds hers and holds it triumphantly aloft. "I found it!" The audience cheers for her. The man congratulates her and hands her ten dollars, as promised. He then points out that the other woman has stopped looking for her ace, though her deck still holds one. He never said, "I'll give ten dollars to the first to find it, and not the second." But once the first woman succeeded, the second stopped trying.

My writer friends have found their aces. I haven't found mine yet. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't keep looking. "The Rise of Umbra" is a good story with solid characters. If I don't write it, who will? What stories (or pieces of artwork, or poems, plays, sculptures, songs, et cetera) do you have within you that only you can create?

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