‘Shut Up and Get to Work’

This week, a coworker told me about a friend of his whose first novel was going to auction. A few hours later, the book had sold for five figures.

At first, I was like, “Wow, that’s so cool for your friend.” A few hours later–definite pangs of jealousy.

I wasn’t jealous of the book sale. I was jealous that this person I’d never met had finished his first novel.

Here’s some advice from blogger Tayari Jones: Don’t get pissy about who got published other than you. If you haven’t completed your novel, “shut up and get to work.”

And remember, you started writing because you love to write. When I say get to work, I am not telling you to pick up a hammer and start breaking rocks. When I say get to work, I’m saying get back to you. Get back to where you started from when you said you wanted to be a writer, when you didn’t know anything about the business.

I’ve been saying all along that the business of publishing does not concern me until I FINISH THE DAMN BOOK. But, I do think well-channeled jealousy is not necessarily a bad thing. It has spurred me to action more than once. I prefer to focus my jealousy on the types of things I can control. I can control, for the most part, getting the writing done. I can’t control, for the most part, whether someone decides to publish me. And of course, if I haven’t finished the novel, whether anyone would publish my work is a moot point.

So, kudos to my coworker’s friend for finishing his novel and doing all the hard work it must have taken to make it sale-able. And congratulations to him for getting a publisher.

And kudos to me for cutting the first three pages of a chapter yesterday and getting my characters right into the middle of the action. Baby steps.


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