A couple of evenings ago I was reading an online discussion – as you do on a Saturday night when you’re at home with kids, a dog, and a Harry Potter marathon on TV. However, different from many other debates that I nod along to and promptly forget, this particular discussion stuck in my brain.
In the forum thread, the poster asked, “How do you handle feelings of competition with other writers who are more successful/more prolific/working in the same genre as you?” The overwhelming majority of responses mentioned the incredible support writers give each other, and how one person’s success does not hinder another’s, but helps them along instead.
I admit to getting a little teary-eyed as I read the replies, but I’ll blame that on a particularly poignant scene in Prisoner of Azkaban, which happened to be on at the time.
I started writing novels almost exactly four years ago, in August 2012. At the time, I’d just signed up to a science fiction and fantasy forum with an active community of writers. That’s where I learned about the importance of feedback and found my first treasured beta readers (waves at Jo, Mouse and Abernovo). I moved to the USA and discovered a second, equally supportive family in the kid lit world through the SCBWI. I joined critique groups and went to my first writing conferences and conventions. I spread my wings and found a whole world of like-minded people who were willing to share, and to care.
Over the years, I’ve followed the journey of a number of writing friends who’ve published work. I have been thrilled for each and every one of them. I’ve bought books, tweeted praise and, when possible, written reviews. Tentative online connections have become firm friendships, and my own life and work has become all the richer for it.
The peer support I’ve seen out there in the cold, hard world of publishing is phenomenal. Writer friends get it: they’ve struggled with first drafts, endless revisions, and plot holes galore. They’ve bled ink, and woken up at 3am with a brilliant solution for chapter 10 which has to be written down immediately or will be forever lost. They can always be counted on to send virtual cake when needed.
Writer friends are priceless.
And now I have an upcoming book release of my own. I should be terrified (and I am, really), but I know that I’m not alone. I know I’m just one small piece of a much larger puzzle. And all us puzzle pieces, we’re not in competition. We complete each other – with our many odd curvy edges – and share our strength with one another.
So for all my writing and publishing friends, the ones I’ve met and the ones still to meet: thank you for being there, and thank you for being you. Weird curvy edges and all.