Each morning I wake up to emails from two writing listserves. I also tweet, facebook, and hang out with writer friends on several blog sites. The word "CONGRATULATIONS!" shows up often as writer friends find an agent, sell a manuscript, or get a great review.
Warm fuzzies abound and not just at Christmas.
Throughout the year, writers suggest each other's books for awards and swap info about grant opportunities etc. We critique each other's manuscripts and promote each other's books. We share writing and research tips.
Sounds like one big happy community. Right?
Well, of course, right. But I think it's fair to say that just underneath all that goodwill lies an evergreen layer. Because ultimately we're competitors. There are only a few coveted awards and we all dream of winning them. Readers have a limited number of book buying dollars and we need them to be spent on our books!
No matter how well our books are received, most of us can usually find someone whose title is getting way more attention! It's hard not to be jealous.
Recently I was even envious of my friend Carol Baldwin's work-in-progress. She's unearthing such a fabulous story that I almost wanted to be doing her research and writing her book!
That's pretty, sick, isn't it?
Not sure where I'm going with this. It's just something I've been thinking about - the irony of good friends being fierce competitors. I don't think there's a thing we can do about it - except keep encouraging each other, be genuinely happy when the other person succeeds, and do our very best work at all times.
After all, goodwill is in season all year-round!
And while I'm on the subject of promoting friends' books - check out Carol Baldwin's book on writing. It's full of great writing experiences for the classroom but it's great for writers too. One of her character building exercises hugely influenced my work-in-progress.