Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.
The phrase may lay claim to be the best-known words by Gore Vidal (shameful confession – I can’t quote anything else).
He was also reported to have said It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
The point is a simple one that so many successes are binary. If you get the job, others don’t. If your horse wins the race, it must be in front of all the others. And, as Vidal was a writer, if people are reading your book, they are not reading other people’s.
Well, with the full degree of literary respect due to the great man, I think he’s talking rot. From when I started writing, the single thing that has kept me going has been the support of others, whether providing critique, making suggestions or encouraging me when things get tough. And, whisper it softly, by succeeding. Because, each time someone who you know has been through the same grief you have, succeeds, there’s a chink of light and hope that you can do the same.
And that is one of the joys of writing – it’s not a binary game. Just because someone reads your book, it doesn’t stop them reading mine next. When a friend gets fabulous book news, there is nothing but happiness: partly for their joy and partly because it might be me next…