So, I have some pretty famous writers friends. Like almost everything, I wasn't born with them. We started out unpublished, friends through writing groups or MFA programs or through our kids, and then, slowly, we started to get book deals. First you're writing alone and working alone, and you feel so alone. And then slowly, over time, there are these other people you collect who write too and you become friends and you share manuscripts. And then lo and behold--some of them become published.
Of the many many published friends I have, two are very close long-time friend and they are well published authors who have either been at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, or have won lots of awards. (This is why when you read the acknowledgements in the back of books, authors are thanking other sometimes-famous authors. It's not a conspiracy, it's just a small community.) But having these friend isn't without some serious drawbacks. As months go by and I have no book deals to show for my two finished YA contemporary novels, it's hard not to wonder why my friends have these amazing books out and deals coming, but I don't yet.
There's no answer to this. I might as well ask the Magic 8 Ball. *Shakes 8-ball, shakes again, again, again.* No answer will work because there really isn't any comparing books to books despite our obsession with comp-titles. This is one of my favorite things in the world to do, by the way, and if we ever meet, we can do it for hours together and have SO MUCH FUN. But, there's no real comparison between books because every book is unique.
So how to deal with these terribly famous friends of
ours? Actually, I don't. I don't mean that I don't see my friends or call them or hang out or critique their work--but I try not to follow things like...their Twitter. Or Facebook (unless they're posting about their kids or something). That's not to say I'm not happy for them, because I'm ecstatic and I know they will be ecstatic when my turn comes (Magic 8-Ball do you hear me coming?) in however many months or years.
But until then, I'm accepting that it's OK not to fangirl my friends, and it's OK not to fangirl other authors who you knew along the way or who have made leaps and bounds where you have many tiny short dribbles. It's fine to NOT pay attention to industry news and obsessively check for people's book deals and to unsubscribe from PW e-mails. Because checking on other's success or their most recent sales figures or who is the newest this week to have an amazing-looking book deal isn't going to make your book get written faster, sell faster, or come out faster.
So you know what you can do with all of those other people's books?
Hide them under the bed.
Use them for stepping stools
Let your friends or student borrow them and say "yeah, I'm good friends with the author"
Put them in a box marked "do not open until 2020"
Offer them as paper weights in your partner's office
Count the number of times you're acknowledged in the acknowledgements
But that's it. No comparing. No wistful touching. No long-glances through a smoky mirror.
Hide them until your book joins them.
Then it's Book Party Time.