A while back I watched Neil Gaiman's keynote at the London Book Fair and he said some interesting things. (Go ahead and check it out. It's 30 minutes and he takes 7 or 8 minutes to really get going but it's a cool lecture.)
Here's a short version:
He mentions taping music in the 1970s and how the musician's union of his town thought this was going to kill music. It didn't. He then draws the connection between digital books (invoking the first major pop culture reference in Douglas Adams' magnificent The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy) killing books in the same way that it was thought taping stuff would kill music. Of course it didn't, and digital books won't replace physical books, either. Not completely, anyway.
But what got me thinking was how he said that we (I took it to mean authors) are like dandelions. We spread the seeds of our works to the wind and hope that some of them find a place to land and grow. I suspect he's more like a dandelion than anyone else because he's got an enormous fan base and platform to spread all sorts of seed out into the world but the point was well taken.
We have to keep trying things, failing, trying again then failing better. Not necessarily more spectacularly or incredibly, but learning from the failures. It's okay to suck. It's okay to have almost no response to one's works, but it's frustrating. It leads to fear which leads to hate - you get the idea. Really, what I took away from the lecture was that failure IS an option but no one, not even Neil Gaiman, knows what's going to stick. The best one can do is the best one is capable of at the time and then learning what works. I have to believe that the seeds I've put out into the world are still riding the winds somewhere, looking for some great place to land.
I guess that's what I've always done. Having engaged in creative endeavors ever since my teenage years, I just haven't found the seeds that will grow a fan base yet. That's nothing I can do on my own. I have to have work out there that speaks to people, somehow cutting through the harsh white noise with a clear signal that connects.
There's no envy in me any more of what others are able to accomplish. There's curiosity (how the hell did he do that?) and there's always something to learn from what another does. I'll shift gears but keep doing what I do. Eventually I'll find that base, grow those seeds and my work be the weeds in your gardens. Or lawn.
Bend with the wind. Move forward. Ride the currents and see where I'm going to land.
That's the plan.