Have you ever felt like this: You’re cruising around on Facebook, clicking links, Liking posts, catching up on all your hundreds of friends’ statuses–oh, look, over there on the right, your friend just Liked something else. Your brother made a funny observation. Your friends’ baby said his first word–and it was “daddy,” your sisters’ kid just got a full-ride scholarship to an A-list college, your cousin just sold a novel–to a big, NY publisher, in a three-book deal; your friend over there just sold a zillion copies of her self-published book (which means she’ll be making a cool three-zillion dollars come Amazon Payday), your friend from high school just hit the lottery…
and you’re ready to pick up your computer and toss it through the window??
While you’re sneaking that look at Facebook as you take a short break from the same job you’ve had for years, after getting the upteenth rejection from a publisher on the book you wrote that you were sure was IT, while your self-published book molders in the five-millions in the Amazon rankings, and your kid brought home a report card full of C’s, your other kid needs to be picked up from detention, and the electric bill’s past due because it was buried in the pile of crap that never leaves the kitchen table???
Yeah, I know, me too. OK, things aren’t quite like the above paragraph, but definitely not like the first!
And it’s not just Facebook–it’s Twitter, and blogs, and Tumblr, and Pinterest…
I’m not talking simple social media overload, I’m talking when it seems like everyone but you is doing great things, having great things happen to them, their perfect family, their awesome tons-of-money-making job, you name it. While you’re pretty much standing still.
In the old days, this could have been called Holiday Newsletter Syndrome, you know, when it seems every other Christmas card you open contains one of those newsletters where everything is wonderful and while you feel happy for your friends, you can’t help but feel like you’re a big, stagnant LOSER.
Of course, we don’t put the bad stuff in those holiday newsletters–or if we did, it’s something we gloss over and that was, of course, no fault of the writer’s–a death in the family, perhaps, “we miss her, but we’re getting through it.” And we don’t usually put that stuff on social media either, because who wants to read a whiner? “(Sigh) another rejection” or, “my publisher’s dropping me because I didn’t even come close to earning out my advance,” or “well, that’s nice for her; I sold a whopping three ebooks last month on Amazon.” It’s easy to tell ourselves people don’t post stuff like this, but it’s still tough not to feel like a big, stagnant LOOOOOOOSER.
In the 2004-6 or so, I read a lot of blogs–industry blogs, and a lot of authors’ blogs, which back then, were “Follow me on my road to publication!” And over those couple of years, many of those authors did indeed sell to publishers. So many, eventually, that it seemed everyone was writing something like: “Oh, look! My contracts arrived today.” Or, “Squeeee! I got cover art and it’s beyoooooootiful!” or “I hit the best seller list again this week!”
It got to the point that with each blog post like that I read (and it seemed most of them were like that, for a while), I got more and more bummed out. It wasn’t that I begrudged those authors their succes; I just wanted a little of something like it for myself.
Finally, I realized it had to stop–not the successes, or even the blog posts, but me reading them. I unsubscribed from one blog after another, until I stopped reading blogs altogether.
Most of the blogs I read now are either strictly industry-focused, or they’re authors blogging about something besides writing. Some of them are further along than me in their careers, some are just getting started. Their blogs are fun to read, and it’s fun to cheer them on. Some of them come to my blog and cheer for me, too, and that means a lot.
And guess what? Facebook’s the same way. Sometimes it’s one big cheering section, other time’s it’s better to just step away, sometimes because of time constraints, sometimes when Holiday Newsletter Syndrome threatens. But I don’t stay away for long.
What about you? Do you ever get Holiday Newsletter Syndrome? Ever need to step away from Facebook, blogs, Twitter, whatever? Or does it roll off you, no matter how far along you are(n’t) in your career? Please tell me I’m not alone! And if you haven’t already, maybe Like me on Facebook?