"It seemed so odd that my ever-successful friend should have a crisis of confidence. The fact interested me, it even cheered me a little."
The quote was from the short story My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan in the 28 March 2016 edition of the New Yorker.
As a writer I loved the story written from the point of view of a barely successful writer who keeps the friendship from university days of a writer more successful than he was. I will not write a spoiler of the twists and turns, just comment on my pleasure in the story.
As a writer who has published ten novels with the eleventh due out this fall, I have a body of work. I should be confident but I've always remembered what my editor said when I was a cub reporter for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. He was a Spencer Tracey wantabe with his growls. "You are only as good as your last story."
Sometime I feel I am only as good as my last paragraph. It doesn't stop me from going back and polishing one more time or maybe 20 more times.
The fact the writer was cheered, but just a little is an interesting balance that he didn't hold any animosity toward his friend for being more successful.
I have started with several writers in the Geneva Writers Group whom I consider much better writers. I don't begrudge them their talent. I would not be cheered by their self doubts, because I believe all writers have those days and if they are lucky, only those days instead of the doubt crippling them for weeks, months or years.
Being a writer is a funny thing. Words and stories roll around in one's head. Some will never escape thru the fingers. Those that do may disappear with a delete key. Others will hide in a desk or a computer hard drive and never be read by anyone.
This I do know. A writer writes. It is impossible not to. The other emotions are just detail.