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But...I'm Better Than Them!

Whether you are dealing with writing, or any other creative pursuits, athletic pursuits, academic or work pursuits, I think every person on earth is going to say at some point, “I could have done better," when looking at a piece of art or a book or performance.


Maybe you did already, maybe you could. Maybe you can’t. Maybe you won’t. That is briefly what I want to talk about today.

Someone writes a book, and they are reasonably praised, because writing a book is hard to do. They are published, you read it, and because you have been writing for a decade you can see the forest through the trees and the details on every leaf and say to yourself… “I can and have written better. Why am I not published?”

That is one perspective.

“I can write better than this! That means I can be published too,” is another one.

“J.K. Rowling is only so so…”

That is one perspective. Another is “J.K. Rowling brought a land of fantasy to the foreground and ignited reading in hundreds of thousands of kids who may not have picked up the genre otherwise.” She boosted the validity of the genre I write in. She made more readers for my future material.

It is very easy to fall into a trap of saying, with a frustrated huff, why bother, if they are going to publish crap! Or think you will never make it because nobody wants to listen to you, and you are stuck in a corner. I hear those voices too. The reality is that publishing, and MANY other industries are brutal, and the bulk of the praise and money and fame ALWAYS goes to a minority of people. That is the science of the Pareto principle. This is present in every system no matter how it is designed. Even random distribution trades over time.

Nobody is out to get you, almost ever. When we address the success of others we have a choice. Their success can be a road paver for something you want to do too. It can be a trailblazer to make the world a better place for things you also want to do, or you can be angry and talk in twenty years about the book you could have written, the race you could have run, the job you could have tried for or the chance you could have taken.

Don’t let anger be the enemy of trying.

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