Back Scratching

We creative types can get crazy with competitiveness. (Remember Kanye West at the VMAs? Crazy.) Even beginners get crazy. You know that look you’ve seen on a friend’s face when you tell her you’ve just had a piece accepted for publication. And when you discover a great market to submit to, do you share it with your peeps or do you keep it to yourself?

I think a little competitiveness can be a good thing, because it can push you out of your comfort zone and make you take a chance on yourself that you might not have taken without the threat of being left behind. But we go overboard when we hoard our resources or when we respond bitterly to someone else’s success.

The truth is, there’s room in this world for all of us and we each have unique talents. Maybe that sounds sappy. But I believe it’s true. So I don’t have a problem celebrating the successes of fellow writers, even when their writing overlaps mine in some way. I figure, I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine. I’m willing to help you become successful by promoting your work. I hope you’ll help me out one day too.

See, all those other writers out there doing their thing aren’t who I need to worry about. I need to be competitive with myself. I need to continually work to write better than the last time I wrote. Watching other writers succeed inspires me to keep pushing forward.

We’re being told all the time that we need to promote ourselves if we’re going to make it in this business. Once in while though, we need to lift our heads up, notice some of the other great work going on around us, and throw a peer a little spotlight. Besides the fact that it just plain feels good to help someone out, I know the good will I put out into the writing community will come back around my way. And that’s the kind of writer I want to be–competitive in my craft but communal in my profession.

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