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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-04-24 20:14
Subject: "Keep on living in competition"
Security: Public
Tags:process, publishing, writing
Tuesday Night Writers was a bit of a bust. Due to a variety of circumstances only davidlevine and I were there for any length of time, and there was a raucous Wiccan moot going on around us. However, it meant that he and I got to talk a bit, which is a somewhat rare pleasure. David is thoughtful, witty and erudite, in addition to being a hell of a writer. (And I did get a fair amount of work done on a number of disparate projects.)

One of the things we touched on was the sense of competition which writers seem to be overtaken by. I pointed out something that I've said before -- this is not a direct competition, such as a footrace, where there can be only one winner, and that person's victory by definition sets other runners behind. Rather, the field of writing and publishing is an indirect competition, like shopping for a hard-to-find product. Just because I am able to buy a Wii doesn't mean you can't. (Well, as if I would ever buy a Wii...)

What this means is a practical matter is that jealousy or envy over someone else's sale or a good review is deeply pointless. Not only for the obvious psychological reasons, but simply because it is misplaced. At the same time, we're all monkeys here (unless you're a product of Intelligent Design or Young Earth Creation, in which case you should be complaining about manufacturer's defects in your knees, spine and reproductive system), and monkeys compete. All the time.

I believe that one of the great virtues of our particular genre is the workshop system that supports it. One of the important, albeit secondary, functions of the workshop system is to facilitiate a sense of cooperation and mutuality, while providing an outlet for that competitive impulse.

At the bottom, we're all in this together. No one fails simply because someone else succeeds.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2007-04-25 03:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good post.

Jealousy of other writers is not something I'm fond of seeing in myself or other people. I try to use the success of others to motivate myself (see, they did it, you can do it too!) rather than sitting back and feeling envious.

As far as I'm concerned, I think it is a great and good coolness when people I know do well and get published, win awards, and garner great reviews.

I'll save the competition urges for when I show my horse .
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David Moles
User: scarypudding
Date: 2007-04-25 04:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good writers grow the market for good writing. I don't compete with good writers. I compete with bad writers. And the truth is, they don't put up much of a fight.
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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2007-04-25 05:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The Wiccan moot may have been racus because of this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/23/AR2007042302073.html?hpid=sec-religion
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-25 14:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
All because the president didn't approve. Feh on him.
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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2007-04-25 05:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
ps. I hear you over the competition. I've just had a very sour week with my mother. It's pitiful that she thinks I'm competing with her.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-25 14:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Maybe she needs mom intervention? Shall I loan you mine?
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2007-04-25 08:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm lucky in that my writer's group is mixed genre, so no-one feels in competition with each other (someone is unlikely to sell a standard Regency romance to a science fiction publisher).

It does however present it's own unique problems when you read to them and no-one gets the Lovecraft reference in the aliens.
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In a heaven of people only some want to fly
User: chipmunk_planet
Date: 2007-04-25 14:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If someone else can spawn a rabid reader, so much the better for all of us!
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User: tillyjane
Date: 2007-04-25 15:11 (UTC)
Subject: competition
"No one fails simply because someone else succeeds."

I'd add that no one succeeds simply because someone else fails...
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A large duck
User: burger_eater
Date: 2007-04-25 17:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No one fails simply because someone else succeeds.

However, my failures stand in sharp contrast to the successes of others, especially others who are younger than I am, have written fewer works and/or have made smarter choices in general.

Few things point out my own deficits like seeing other people hit goals I can't even get near, and that shit[1] stings.


[1]'Scuse my Fraunch
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User: blzblack
Date: 2007-04-26 03:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There's a healthy kind of competition where writers keep trying to impress each other. That's fun.
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