I was perusing my bookcase this week and stumbled across an old motivational booklet, Attitude, Your Internal Compass. It’s one of those hokey “how to realize your potential” books from the ’90s. But one of the essays really struck a chord with me.
Borrowing heavily from Dorothy’s lament in The Wizard of Oz, it chastised people for spending too much time coveting the talent and success of others, without realizing how good they have it right in their own backyard. By feeling as though we aren’t as skilled as someone in a certain area, we get discouraged. Depressed.
What we don’t realize is, we each have our own particular skill set.
You may not be as creative a writer as EL James (Fifty Shades of Grey), but maybe you have a better command of grammar and punctuation. You may be jealous of how prolific Nora Roberts is, but Harper Lee only published one book (To Kill a Mockingbird) and managed to have a fairly successful career.
Can you even imagine what was going through Steve Buscemi’s head when he decided to become a movie star? I mean, seriously, folks. Look at that face. But he had talent and enthusiasm, and he found his niche.
So, when you’re shooting for your dreams, don’t worry if someone is better than you. Find what you enjoy, work at it, polish it, and become the best you can be.
Don’t try to fit into someone else’s box. Find success that matches your skills and experiences.
Why different is better
I had a boss who hated me. I was too outspoken, too concerned about putting a positive spin on things, and not focused on the nuts and bolts of the organization. She wanted me to be just like her–quiet, restrained and precise.
But I was the marketing manager. And she was an engineer. She didn’t enjoy talking to people and couldn’t care less about making reader-friendly documents. Whereas I loved that stuff. And for our business to succeed, she needed me to do that…to be the yin to her yang. She needed a team of people with different skill sets than hers’. Not better or worse, just different.
This is important for authors to remember. There are so many pieces in the publishing puzzle, no one can go it alone. Plot development, snappy dialogue, accurate grammar (my downfall, as I’m sure you can tell), pitching, synopsis writing, marketing, web design, contract negotiations, accounting, the list is endless.
My advice? Focus on what you’re best at, gain a basic knowledge on the subjects where you’re shaky and then build a team who can fill in your holes. Get a good critique partner, editor, agent, accountant, web designer, etc. Just remember to look for people who are not like you…but who are trying to be the best they can be.