There are some folks who think I was too hard on Tess Gerritsen (A writer whose work I admire and enjoy, by the way) for lamenting on her blog that her latest book only reached #17 on the New York Times bestseller list. She also wasn’t too pleased about my post. She wrote on her blog:
It seems that writers who reach a certain level of success aren’t allowed to
have any insecurities, any doubts about our careers. We shouldn’t be allowed to
wonder if our sales are in a death spiral, whether we’ve lost "it". We should
simply smile and wave and feel like, well, the untouchable queen of England.
I think Tess missed my point. Sharing her insecurities is great (I find it very endearing, actually) it’s what she said and how she expressed it. Can she really expect people to sympathize with her angst about only hitting #17 on the NY Times bestseller list? If that’s a problem, I think it’s one all writers would like to have.
My agent calls those "champagne problems." It’s like a lottery winner saying he’s depressed he just won $500,000 because he won $1 million before… or a TV producer with the highest-rated show in America who is miserable because his series didn’t get an Emmy nomination for Best Drama. On the other hand, I think any writer can appreciate the insecurities Tess feels when she begins each book:
The truth is, I’ve never conquered my insecurity as a writer, and having hit
the list doesn’t change that. I’ve never lost touch with the feeling that
success is a never-ending struggle. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I
slogged my way up as a paperback romance writer, that I wrote nine of those
before my first hardcover, and I’ve never forgotten what rejection feels like.
Every time I sit down to start a new book, I’m always hit with that panicky
feeling of "How on earth did I do this the last time?"
That’s refreshing to hear coming from someone with the kind of success Tess has had…and it’s good for other writers to know, particularly those struggling to make it. So please, Tess, don’t let my comments stop you from being so open, honest, and helpful on your blog. God knows I’ve certainly made the mistake of saying exactly the wrong thing on my blog… in fact, I do it almost daily. I may be doing it again right now.