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Zero-sum | C. S. Won

The one thing a lot of prospective writers and authors crave is attention. I myself am like this, because I want my writings to be known, my stories to be passed down, and my works celebrated in the years to come. It’s what pays the bills, or what we’re hoping pays the bills, so it makes sense that we want to be renowned. It’s a little ironic in a way, because the act of writing is often an isolated and solitary activity, where you’re huddled in front of your laptop alone, mashing out the words brewing in your head, often times with little to no input from the outside world. But make no mistake, when it comes down to it, we desire attention.

However, our desire for attention can manifest in ugly ways, where you begin to think of writing in terms of a competition, where you believe shelf space is limited, and the attention span of potential readers even more limited. You think of success as a rare commodity that only a select few can experience, so you start to denigrate other authors, maybe even get your friends and/or readers to leave bad reviews for other authors, all because you think of publishing as a zero-sum game, where you believe that someone else’s success comes at your own expense.

It’s a terrible way of looking at things, but there are authors out there who absolutely think like this. It shouldn’t be like that, especially in this day and age with the advent of digital media and e-books. Shelf-space in the digital world is virtually limitless. There will always be room for your works. There’s no danger of your books being push aside in favor of the next hyped-up bestseller. Your books will be found. There are billions of us on this planet, with each one being a potential new reader. Barring any unforeseen disaster, we’re basically a renewable source, with a new generation constantly being ushered in that may find your works in the future.

Rather than trying to compete with other writers, just write. Write, publish, market if you want, and then rinse and repeat. Everything else — the lack of sales, the lack of attention — don’t even worry about it. Just write, and let things work itself out. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for your budding book empire.