Writers Aren’t Competing With Each Other
Competition between writers seems unnecessary because our role is not to become the one voice drowning out the others; our role is to be our own unique voice.
Alegra Clarke, Love the Competition: The world needs writers
This has been on my mind since Jen at Laughing at Chaos posted about her upcoming book from GHF Press. Jen and I interact in enough spaces on the Internet that I feel a connection to her. My first response upon hearing the news was entirely based on my expectations/projections of her feelings: elation followed by a gut feeling of panic on her behalf.
And then, I started thinking dangerous thoughts, “why not me?” thoughts. Thoughts I needed put away and consider reflections of my own feelings of inadequacy and no more. Because the truth is I really want to read her book.
I couldn’t write it. I would have to be her to write it.
She actively looks for (and more importantly, finds) the humour in challenges that I share with her, humour that usually eludes me. When I write about the challenges of parenting 2e kids, my thoughts are peppered with scientific research and education policy. She writes the funny. We could both write amazing books about our experiences raising 2e kids and they would be entirely different – even if we were raising the same kids, which we aren’t.
I had similar thoughts when I first saw a Barry Eisler novel for sale with the other mass market paperbacks at my local drug store. You may have heard of Barry: best-selling thriller writer, turned down a half-million dollar publishing contract to self-publish last year. I practiced law with him.
And when my best friend from middle school won a Pulitzer? Mostly just awe. She’s incredible at what she does.
No matter how hard I might have worked, I could not have written what they have written. They see the world through different eyes than mine. They have worked exceedingly hard and been lucky. And I celebrate them.
My voice is my voice. My work is what it is, and reaches who it reaches. They have their own voices and their own audiences.
And that is how it should be.