Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[process] Trading up to a better class of problems

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I try to be open about my journey as a writer and as a professional, and this occasionally requires that I admit to being a bit of an ass. To that end, I was grumbling this past Sunday because the Los Angeles Times review of Mainspring Powell's | Amazon ] was in the online edition only.

It took me a little while to twig to the fact that this is stupid. I have a review in the Los Angeles Times. They spelled my name right. A year or two ago I would have cheerfully sacrificed klingonguy to the Elder Gods for that kind of exposure. Now I'm complaining?

I have a mentor who calls this, "trading up to a better class of problems." For example, when a pro sighs and complains about the three deadlines they have in the next two months, that's a real issue for them. Even when it makes the aspiring and emerging writers nearby reach for the butterknives and 30-mil sheeting. What we all tend to lose sight of in our human journey is how high the last step was. Once we've climbed it, it receded from memory. (My analogy for this is to tell people to think about high school — for years the most critical goal in most of our lives was to finish high school. Shortly after graduation that goal has receded to the trivial, never to be thought about again unless someone brings it up.)

So when I'm feeling grumpy about my coverage in the Los Angeles Times, I'm being very unfair to my past self and to the people around me, but it's still a real, legitimate feeling. How I handle that feeling is a measure of my professionalism and grace. The lesson for me? Another reminder that throughout the decades of my career yet to come, I hope to be one of those pros who never loses sight of what it meant, every step of the way.
Tags: personal, process, writing

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