The Author as Orchard

Of all the wisdom conferred by Joni Rodgers, one of the most meaningful to me has been the statement, "You are an orchard, not a factory."

Ever year about this time, I need the reminder, especially as I gear up for RWA's national conference. I love this annual meeting, which offers a terrific chance to meet with my agent, visit with writer friends, pick up important news, and absorb some terrific tips, tricks, and the general creative vibe that permeates the air.

But confession time... the conference also tends to make me anxious. As is the case with most authors, I have a competitive Type A personality lurking beneath my cell-thin layer of Zen cool, and, surrounded by all these super-accomplished, incredibly productive and successful women makes me feel like a fraud, a slacker, and a slowpoke.

Intellectually, I know I'm not. I know that out of the attendees, there are a good many who would give a kidney to reach my level of success and productivity. I also know there are people going through such tough times, I should be smacked into the next ZIP code for daring to feel crappy. But that's the way it is, and I'm told that nearly everyone, from the newest of the newbies to New York Times bestsellers, struggles with the same emotions.

So I remind myself, I'm flowering and bearing fruit. I might not be mass-producing mega-hits, but I'm soaking in the rain and sunshine and creating my own unique stories in my season, no one else's. And that's all I have to give the world.

So what about the rest of you? Ever struggle with these feelings? If so, how do you cope?


Suzan Harden said…
Ouch. It's hard not to feel inadequate sometimes, but it helps to have someone at home that'll kick my butt when I need it.

Over the last couple of years, I've seen chaptermates land three-book deals, often the same people who placed ahead of me in contests sometimes only by a point or two. After five minutes of self-pity, I go back to the current wip. It's human nature to be envious, but if I wallow in it, I'll never get to where I need to be to land MY deal.
Joni Rodgers said…
Great post, Colleen. I actually needed to be reminded of my old saw today.

And Suzan, that is so natural to feel that pang, but your work is about your work, not theirs, and their success is really a beacon of hope. Proof that it's happening. Debut deals get made every day. It can be done.

Off to practice what I preach!

A happy and productive week to all!


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