Friday, June 15, 2012

Competition -- And Why It Leaves Me Cold


Out of the water and onto the bike.
This past weekend, my 12 year old daughter ran her first triathlon.  It was a spur of the moment thing.  My husband has done a few triathlons for his own amusement, fitness, and sense of personal accomplishment.  He heard about a local kids’ event and asked Gina if she wanted to try it.

It wasn’t until they arrived that my husband realized 90% of the kids participating had been in a 12-week training course to prepare for the event.  Ooops.  But you know what?  Gina did fine. She had fun and finished solidly in the middle of the group.

Most of the parents present that day were cheerful and friendly.  They were there for fun.  They cheered on all the kids, clapped as the contestants finished each event, and shouted “Way to go! Good job! Keep it up! Looking good!” at their own kids and everyone else’s.  The only parents who did not behave that way were … can you guess? … parents of the kids expected to finish in the top twenty.

The real competitors.

These parents did not clap for other children.  They didn’t even clap for their own.  They stood to the side, keeping their eyes peeled for that one custom wetsuit or elite racing bike. As their children finished each event, they didn’t shout encouragement; they shouted critiques: “You blew that dismount! Next time, push harder at the end!”  My daughter recalls running beside a girl who was clearly exhausted in the final leg and hearing her mother scream, “What are you doing? Pass that girl!” (meaning Gina)

If that’s what competition means, I want no part. 

I’ve got 300+ followers on this blog, and most of you are other writers.  If you think about it, you guys are my competitors.  If you’re published, your book competes with mine.  If you’re querying or on submission, you might end up in competition with me for the attention of agents and editors – and the money available at a publishing house for acquisitions. Your book might end up next to mine on a shelf in the store, and readers will have to choose between us.

By rights, we ought to bashing each other down. 

But I have never seen any such thing – at least not among the writers I’ve encountered.  Experienced authors I met while publishing WHTD referred me to their own agents.  Every week, I see blogging authors enthusiastically promoting each other’s releases.  We give query critiques to one another and offer pitch contests on our blogs.  And I am proud to be a part of this group.

I know it’s not all like that. I’ve heard about “review wars” between authors on Amazon.  Heck, I even had to leave Amazon Vine because the reviewers were sabotaging each other’s review rankings. (Really? Yes, really.)

Anyway, that kind of competition leaves me cold, and I just wanted to end this week cheering all of you on.  Whether you are drafting, revising, querying, submitting, publishing, reviewing, promoting, or plotting out your next project … Way to go!  Looking good! Keep up the good work! 

22 comments:

  1. People like that irk me. Especially parents who are pushing their kids. It's one thing to be proud, but some people take it to another level.
    I love this community for the support we give each other. Yes, in a way we are each others competition, but the publishing world is a big place and there are so many options. I love helping others and am so thankful for those who have helped me.
    Have a great weekend!
    Congrats to your daughter for completing her triathlon. What an accomplishment and inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I couldn't agree more. And I will squeal if the day ever comes when a Sarno book sits near a Salerni book. :) Alphabet proximity 4-Eva.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I HATE parents like that. They destroy things for everyone, and especially they destroy the love of the sport for the kid. It's no longer a fun activity. No wonder these kids burn out.

    I love the writing community because we are super supportive. We cheer for our friends' successes and feel their pain when things don't go well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dianne, you know I totally heart you, but I can't comment on this post. I would never stop! I've been involved in youth sports as a kid, and now as an adult with my own children. My dad was a youth hockey and baseball coach for 14 years. I've experienced and witnessed more $#*% than there is paper to hold my words.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good for Gina, and good for you! Parents who pressure their children to become some sort of extension of their own competitive egos irk me no end.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Absolutely. We have such an awesome group in the writing/blogging community. I'm not real big on competition either.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good post, Dianne. I thought about this same thing at my daughter's final state track meet. Track is one of those sports that, even though it is competitive, neither the parents nor the athletes are ugly towards one another, but are instead encouraging. I feel this way about writing, too. Yes, we are all competitors, but we encourage one another and are happy when someone succeeds. Why? Because we all win when good books are birthed into the world.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree Diane, Parents shouldn't take the fun out of the game for the kids. We should be teaching them good sportsmanship and compassion, those are more important. I love to write, that's why I do it. I know that's why you Diane and many other's writers do it. I will cheer on anyone who has the same passion for writing as me. Even if I never get published and they get on the New York Bestsellers list. I think it's important to support each other in what we do,being a writer isn't as easy as some people think. Congrats to Gina for a great attitude and a for finishing!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good for your daughter. It's a shame that parents put such expectations on their kids at such young ages. Just finishing is an accomplishment and something to be proud of.

    ReplyDelete
  11. OH! Dianne, don't even tell me that. (The bit about the parents who didn't even clap for their own children.) I just get beyond bent out of shape at people like that. UGH!

    As for the part about us being competitors, well... not really, you know? I mean, I talked to my husband about this when I read a book that was so much like mine once. here's my take:

    How long does it take one person to read a really good book? (sometimes four hours)

    How long does it take to actually write a really good book? (sometimes four years--LOL!)

    Readers can't wait THAT long for their next book. So see? We're all in this together. And if someone sails up the charts, that's more money and more book buyers looking for their next "fix." So right back atcha! (and all those other wirters... ;o) <3

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's true that we all support one another...unconditionally...and that is beyond awesome (and rather unique). But we also push each other to improve, to develop further, to expand our boundaries, to become the best writers we can be. And for me that's what "healthy" competition should strive to achieve! You don't win by sabatoging others, but just trying to keep pace. The faster the group goes...the better off each individual becomes.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good job, Gina!

    Competition is okay, but one should never forget the fun or forget that winning isn't everything - especially when kids are involved.

    I was surprised how non-competitive the writing 'world' is. People are so supportive and helpful. It makes writing that much more enjoyable.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Woot! I love this post, Dianne! And I want to hurt those horrible parents.

    I love this community and how wonderfully supportive it is. I love that while, technically, we're competing with each other that we also realize that books aren't like cars where (most) people can only have one or two at a time. Readers finish one book and they want another. They can blow through, in a day or two, books that take us years to write and get to publication.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Apparently parents (except me) don't applaud or cheer or say 'Great job!' at track meets for the small events like long jump - only for the runners. I don't get it.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about this writing community. I never expected support like this.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I don't understand parents like that. I always want to hug their children.

    Congrats to your daughter!

    ReplyDelete
  18. We are a pretty good bunch aren't we? Awesome post, D.

    ReplyDelete
  19. She had fun....... and that is what matters.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I agree with everyone here. It breaks my heart to think of children growing up with parents like that.

    As for competition between authors, I've never really thought of it like that. If someone is better than me (and most are!), they give me something to aspire to. I guess I'm really lucky in that my writer friends ARE encouraging, and supportive, and so, so helpful. We are all in this together, and books will last lifetimes. We can all make sales. It doesn't matter who sells first.

    It's a horrible shame there are nasty writers out there. I'm glad I haven't come across one yet. :)

    And yay for Gina! :D

    ReplyDelete
  21. I will truly never understand parents like that. It is so sad for everyone involved.

    As for the other writers, most of my readers are over 35 and I read their blogs and we have become friends. I have gotten 6 really nasty comments from readers between the ages of 17-25 because the color of my character's dress resembles the color of another blogger's character. I believe maturity goes a long way in sports or writing.

    Congrats to your daughter for finishing! Finishing first doesn't make you the best...

    ReplyDelete
  22. I do see some of that with parents of sports who obviously think their child has p otential and have probably invested a lot of time and money. But I have to wonder if it's really about their kids - or their own competitiveness. I think it's sad.

    ReplyDelete