I’m feeling very Salieri this week. For anyone who hasn’t seen Amadeus, Salieri was a middle-aged composer at the same time as the fresh-faced, foul-mouthed Mozart. Whereas Salieri would spend days working on a tiny composition, Mozart could write the same piece only moments after hearing it. Not only was Salieri envious of Mozart, but Mozart’s lack of effort to achieve his talent put Salieri in a very bad mood. Like really bad (that’s all I’ll say…no spoilers here).
So, yeah, I’m feeling very Salieri this week as I’m incredibly grumpy over my lack of success (as yet) in the face of a bunch of fresh new upstarts.
It all started with a copy of Writer’s Digest. Nice magazine with good tips, but one section is seriously depressing. In this section, they list three new books and have a little Q & A with the authors about their books, how it got published and that sort of thing. They also ask how long it took to write the book. Um, dear editors of WD, please stop putting this question in there. It’s cruel. It’s evil. It’s the main source of my Salieri-ness.
So what did these new authors have to say to drag down my mood? Well, let’s see. One of these damn little Mozart-esque writers finished her book in a month. A month. As in a month on Earth, not, say, a month on Venus that would equal something like 3,500 earth days. A freaking month. Another writer didn’t even have to write her book. She had about 75 pages done and sent them with a proposal and ended up selling a book series which – once she got the advance money in hand – she wrote in eight months. Yes, eight Earth months.
To top this off, the next day in the local newspaper (yes, we still get a newspaper) the Arts section decided to flaunt a true little Mozart in front of my Salieri eyes. He’s 24 years old and recently got his book published. And not just published, but WAY published with a huge advance and movie rights already sold. In addition to snagging loads of cash from selling his North American rights, the book rights were also sold to several countries, including Italy where he garnered a 6-figure advance.
Son of a Mozart bitch.
While I hope these writers do well, it’s hard not to compare myself to them. Me, who like Salieri puts out a mere 10 to 20 pages a week working on a rough draft and will then spend months editing, revising, polishing and then revising again. The idea of being able to whip out anything other than a short story in only a month boggles my freakin’ mind. The notion of, against all advice I read, of querying a book series without even finishing the first book of the series makes me grind my teeth in seething jealous angst. And, well, 24 was a long time ago and I’m still waiting for a real publisher to notice my work.
But then there was the light on the horizon. I snagged another copy of Writer’s Digest from the library (because I’m way too cheap to buy my own subscription) and on the cover was George R.R. Martin – otherwise known as the creator of the Game of Thrones books that became a super successful HBO series.
I perused the article and had to smile. His fans apparently complain that he takes too long between releasing books in the series. Reading this, I wanted to hug him and tug on his little Santa-like beard. This is someone who, beyond just finishing and selling a book, has actually kicked ass with his success. And how long does it take him to complete a book? He said at minimum three years, with most of his books taking four or five years from idea to completion.
After reading this, a tiny amount of the Salieri-ness faded away and I did a little happy dance to the tune of Mozart’s “A Little Night Music.”
So, unless I can get my hands on some magic pen, I know the only way to get my book done is to work in a manner that works for me and to get down one word at a time until I’m done. No matter how long it takes.