Thursday, October 26, 2006

More On Competitiveness

I got so much feedback, both on and off the blog, about my post on dealing with competitive writers that I wanted to toss in an addendum. I truly didn't realize how many writers are bothered by petty comments on other forums and sites: it takes a lot to rile me, so I probably just ignore these comments more than most people, and I'm so sorry that so many of you are frequently demoralized by these insipid remarks by small-minded, competitive writers.

That said, here's the thing: whenever they make you feel insecure or demoralized or have you considering abandoning your writing career, know that everyone starts somewhere. Including these idiots. If they're slamming someone for signing a crappy contract or for taking on a seemingly poor-paying assignment (who are they to judge what your time is worth??) or for asking a silly question, know that all (okay, most) of us took shitty assignments at one point in our careers. That's just how it works. Establishing a career in freelancing is a snowball effect: you start small and build momentum. Did I start off with $2 assignments in my pocket? Hell to the no. Did I start off taking on stories that made my eyes glaze over? Hell to the yes. Did I start off asking plenty of dumb (to more experienced writers) questions? I think we all know the answer to that one.

And in case I need to drive this point home even further: as I've said plenty of times on this blog, remember that my first novel did not sell. No one wanted to bite. Is there anything more demoralizing than spending four years on a project and finding out that have to toss it out the window? Short answer - NO. So...could I have crumbled and tossed the fiction thing aside entirely, and instead glumly read the listings on Publishers Marketplace and fumed with raging jealousy and insecurity? Sure. But where would that have gotten me? Instead, what I did was decide to suck it up and keep at it. And then I churned out TDLF. Which is exactly what I was talking about in the previous post when I said that it really only pays to be competitive with yourself.


Look, I got a great book deal. But I see bigger, splashier deals posted every week on PM, but what am I going to do about it? Nothing. I wrote a book I'm immensely proud of, and that's all I can do. Regardless of your line of work, there will ALWAYS be someone who makes more, is more successful, is more famous, is more, is more, is more. Seriously - unless you're like, the President (not a job I aspire to), there is always someone who is succeeding on a bigger platform. So, again, my advice is to just aim to be the best you can be (do I sound like an ad for the army?) and screw the people who are trying to bring you down. A $1 a word assignment might be peanuts to one writer and and the mother lode to another. If someone tries to tell you that it's peanuts, but you know that it's the mother lode to you, then gracefully ignore them and get busy writing.

7 comments:

Heather Johnson Durocher said...

Allison -- I just love your posts. I read them frequently, and you're right on. Thanks for saying it so well and with such great wit.

Heather

Bethany said...

You GO girl! :-) And ain't that the truth? We all can realize our successes in our own way.

Trish Ryan said...

Great post, great point. Even President Clinton's autobiography was surrounded with speculation about whether his wife's book would do better.

thatgirl said...

Amen, sista.

larramie said...

Don't you just love the energy and passion of Allison's posts? She believes and cares so much!

As for those small-minded, competitive writers who make insipid remarks, they might appear successful BUT no way are they happy.

Anonymous said...

Allison, what a great attitude. Can you put it in a bottle for me to share with some other writers I know? :) -- Tavia.

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Thanks, everyone!! I know you guys feel the same way that I do, which is why I adore you all. :)