I don’t know about you, but there are times when social media gets me down. You know what I mean. Someone releases a new story and it rockets to the top of the best-seller list. Someone among your friends on Facebook is vacationing in the Bahamas or they’ve attended that everyone-wants-to-be-there convention that sold out before you could buy a ticket.
I’ve written on the subject before. Face it, Facebook and other sources of social media have the power to make you think you’re a loser; that you’re not as successful or talented as the next guy. There are some important aspects to remember, however, when it comes to comparing your life to others as depicted on social media.
1. People lie. Yeah, kind of surprising, right? But there are some people out there who are so afraid of looking like a loser that they will lie about their status and successes in order to make YOU feel bad. Read posts with a grain of salt. Remember how common it is for everyone to put the best spin on things (unless, of course, they are a professional victim. Those people tend to always be in trouble, bringing out the compassionate in you. But for every post where someone is on top of the world, just tell yourself that you’re not necessarily seeing the whole picture. Maybe that person‘s latest book release is all the rage right now, but would you want their home life? You don’t know because you’re only seeing the snippet of their lives they choose to share with you.
2. Life is cyclical. Just because someone is riding the height of the success Ferris Wheel right now doesn’t mean that your turn isn’t coming. Okay, so maybe this week you don’t have a mega bestseller new release and you haven’t lost fifty pounds, and you didn’t win the lottery. Maybe you had to stay home and take care of the kids instead of attending that convention where everyone who was anyone attended. That doesn’t mean that next week or next month it won’t be *you* posting about fun events or awesome achievements that leave everyone else green with envy. The nature of social media is that everyone else’s life seems more exciting than yours. There is a marked tendency for us to forget the good things in our lives when bombarded daily with the success stories of other people. It doesn’t matter what heights of success we achieve; someone else out there will top it. The key to happiness is to stop comparing ourselves to others.
3. Know when to take a break. If everyone is at a big event you can’t attend and it is breaking your heart just a little, then maybe it is time to take a break from social media. Yeah, I know, easier said than done. Today when I was leaving a store, a very pretty young woman nearly ran me down coming through the doors as I was exiting. She was looking at her phone as she entered the store, walking in squarely through the middle of the doors, with nary a care for anyone around her. Her complete focus was on the phone. I found myself irritated with her attitude. How was it that she was so important that she didn’t have to look where she was going? That I was forced to step aside to avoid running into her? Unfortunately, this will become more common than less. People are so addicted to their social media updates that they routinely endanger their own lives in order to check their phones. I’m guilty of it myself. My BF has long teased me about my habit of reaching for the phone first thing in the morning, before I’m even out of bed.
But sometimes you need to cut yourself off. Not meeting your deadline on a story? Close your browser and lock your phone in a drawer where you can’t hear it. Everyone else at an event you cannot attend? Resist checking Twitter and Facebook every five minutes. The universe will get by without you sharing a LOL cats picture or the latest funny quote from George Takei. Trust me.
4. There’s room enough for us all. Bottom line, no matter who is the best seller last week, there is no law that says you can’t be the best-seller this week. Voracious readers are voracious. They’ll read your stuff, and the next guy’s, and the next guy’s. Sure, they may have to pick and chose which stories they’ll buy this month, but if they can’t get everything they want in one shopping trip, they’ll be back. Be patient. There is no law that says only the number one story on Amazon will be purchased.
5. Instead of crippling you, let social media inspire you. So you missed out on the really fun convention where all the cool kids attended? Then plan ahead for the next year. Save your pennies and make attending that convention a priority the next time it rolls around. That might mean working your ass off to get several releases out instead of one so that you have the funds to pay for the ticket. Or it might mean entering an awards contest when you’d normally shy out of it. Or who knows, maybe your daily posts about your wonderful, supportive significant other is making someone else green with envy because they live with someone who belittles their writing efforts. You never know. What might seem a boring, run-of-the-mill update might be the very thing someone else envies. Stop comparing yourself to others. No one can tell the stories that you have inside of you in exactly the same way that you can. Embrace that. Own that.
In the end, it is not about you and everyone else. It is just about you and your stories. Write the best story you know how to create and the rest will fall into place.
Title: The Boys of Summer by Sarah Madison
Publisher: Sarah Madison
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, M/M
Length: 294 pages
David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film company projects. What’s not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches…and a secret crush on his hot, ex-Air Force pilot, Rick Sutton.
Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick’s injuries, and a lack of food and water, make rescue imperative, but it takes an intensely vivid dream about the war to make David see that Rick is more than just a pilot to him. Will David gather his courage to confess his feelings to Rick—before it’s too late?
“Settings are used wonderfully here, becoming so vibrant that they played out like a movie in my mind as I read.” Jessewave
“I devoured it and it has moved into my top ten books of all time.” Josie Goodreads
Excerpt (Rated R for strong language)
“I don’t think we’ve got much choice.” Sutton’s voice was grim. “We’re lucky to have that much. Hold on, these trees are coming up faster than I’d like.”
Still fighting to keep the nose of the plane up, Sutton guided the recalcitrant aircraft toward the so-called clearing, the ground rising up to meet them far faster than was comfortable. David found himself leaning back in his seat, bracing his hands on the console as the tops of trees scraped the underside of the plane. Branches swiped at the windshield, and David had the sudden impression of being in a car wash scene as written by Stephen King.
“Duck your head!” Sutton barked. “Wrap your arms around your legs!”
“And kiss my ass goodbye?” David shouted, raising his voice over the increasing noise as he obeyed Sutton’s orders.
Incredibly, Sutton laughed. It was an oddly comforting sound. Like everything was somehow going to be all right because Sutton was at the controls.
The moment of humor was gone in a flash. The plane screamed with the sound of tearing metal and the sharp, explosive crack of tree limbs and breaking glass. David kept his head down and his eyes closed, praying to a God he was pretty sure had more important things to do than to keep up with the well-being of one David McIntyre. Despite being strapped in his seat, his head and shoulder thumped painfully against the passenger side door as the plane thrashed wildly. There was a moment of eerie, blessed silence, and for an instant, the assault on the plane seemed as though it had lifted. Eye of the storm, David thought, just before the plane hit the ground.
Someone had left the window open and it was raining on him. How incredibly annoying. He shifted, intent on reaching for the offending window, when a jolt of pain ran through his shoulder and he gasped. When he opened his eyes, nothing made any sense at first. Then he remembered the crash, and realized that his side of the plane was pointing up at the sky. The rain was coming down in a steady stream through the broken windshield. The sound of the rain on the metal hull of the plane was nearly deafening.
He winced at the pain in his neck when he turned to look over at the pilot’s seat. Sutton was slumped to one side in his chair, unmoving. His sunglasses were hanging off one ear.
“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” David murmured, hastily undoing his seatbelt so he could reach across to Sutton. His skin was cold and damp where David touched it, and adrenaline pounded through David’s veins as though he could jumpstart Sutton’s heart by sending his own pulse beating through his fingertips. “Sutton! Rick!”
David fought to free himself of his seat, twisting for greater access to the other side of the cockpit. When the seatbelt came open, he fell half across Sutton. Sprawled practically in his lap, David could now see the nasty cut on the left side of Sutton’s temple. The pilot’s side of the plane had taken a lot of damage, and David yelped as he encountered a sliver of glass. Bits of the windshield and console were scattered like confetti over Sutton’s jacket. “Sutton!” The lack of response was unnerving. He tossed aside the sunglasses and worked a hand down into Sutton’s collar, feeling frantically for a pulse.
He could have kissed the man when Sutton suddenly groaned.
“Rick, are you all right? Can you understand me?” David began feeling around for additional injuries.
“I could never understand you, McIntyre,” Sutton said in a fair approximation of his slow drawl. Even the half-smile was a good imitation of his usual expression. “Who tours the toughest jungles in the South Pacific dressed to play golf?”
“Hah-hah, very funny, keep your day job. Oh, no, wait. Forget that. You’re not so good at the day job either.” Relief made him almost giddy. They were going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay.
Until Sutton tried to move and caught his breath painfully.
“What, what is it?” David tried to reach down around the other side of him, to see what the problem was. He felt something wet, warmer than the rain coming in the windshield, and he pulled back his hand to stare at it in shock.
His hand was covered in blood. The metallic odor of it caught him unaware and almost made him gag.
“Shit,” Sutton said mildly. “I seem to be stuck on something.”
“Stuck?” David knew he was practically shrieking, but what the fuck was he supposed to do, miles from nowhere, with an injured man impaled on God knows what, who might die and leave him here all alone.
Like most writers, Sarah Madison was a story-teller as a child. She couldn’t help herself! She carried a grubby spiral notebook with her everywhere she went, filling it with stories about dogs and horses. When she reached the end of high school, however, she packed up all her creativity in a box and placed it on a shelf, to be stored with other childhood memories. She worked hard at her job and thought that being passionless was just what growing up was all about.
One day she woke up. She opened the box on her shelf and discovered much to her surprise, her passion was there, just waiting to be claimed again.
Now, writing sometimes takes precedence over everything else. In fact, when she is in the middle of a chapter, she usually relies on the smoke detector to tell her when dinner is ready.
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