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Sibling Rivalry

August 22, 2011

By Amber Scott ©2011

One fine day, not so many years ago, my author friend, Karen called me, screeching in delight. She’d finalled! She actually finalled in a contest for the first time ever!!!

So awesome!! I congratulated her and promised we’d celebrate with a coffee at our favorite book store during our next critique group meeting.

I hung up.

And I wanted to throw up.

Karen and I had joined our local RWA chapter about the same time. We were both unpublished. We both struggled to find our voice and worked diligently every day toward our dream of becoming the next Nora Roberts.

I wanted to toilet paper and egg her house.

I wanted to let the air out of her tires.

But, that made no sense! I adore Karen. She is part of my writing family. How could I begrudge her such a wonderful success? I hadn’t even entered the contest because I abhor contests overall. I even encouraged her to enter because the genre for the contest fit so specifically to her manuscript and one of the judges was on her dream agent list! A genre I don’t even write in.

Yet, I carried a belly full of envy around for a solid week.

It invaded my writing. It affected my patience. All the while, I knew it was ludicrous to feel so jealous. But I couldn’t stop. Until…

“But Amber, you aren’t Karen,” my husband said, frustrated with me for once again whining about my yucky gut. “You’re you. And if this writing stuff is so awful, why do you keep trying to get it right?”

Well, that deflated the giant green bubble inside me fast.

He’s right. I’m not Karen. I’m not Nora. I’m Amber Scott.

Turns out, it is also completely and totally normal to feel a rivalry with my author siblings. As a survival mechanism, the human brain constantly compares itself to others. It checks what others are doing in order to consider if it should do the same to survive. Be it deciding what animal to kill and how to what to wear and why, humans compare. Status aids survival and so we constantly seek to improve it.

You cannot shut it off. But, you can accept the function of it, recognize it and refocus.

Refocus on what you are doing right. Refocus on the facts. Refocus on how crucial and nurturing those sibling relationships are. Compete with yourself rather than with your peers.

I don’t get jealous (much) anymore. Partly, because I hung in there and have found my way to my dream. Partly, because I study the human brain for fun which makes it easier to forgive myself when I do.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without my writing family that is the Indie Book Collective. A group founded by Carolyn McCray on peer supportive mindset which prevails every day. In the collective it isn’t about me. It’s about we. What can we do for each other?

You can see this demonstrated in all of our programs. Blog Tour de Force focuses on peer promotion, as does Bestseller For a Day. 99 cent Network offers any indie author a spot so long as they agree to peer promote. Even Blog Tour de Troops brings us all together for something bigger than ourselves.

Some see this mentality and grow suspicious. That’s okay. That’s also a part of our survival mechanism.

We certainly aren’t perfect but, thankfully, we at the IBC are far more functional than any real family despite hearing voices in our heads. In the end, a smidgen of rivalry can be motivating. So long as we never let it change how much we love and support each other.

***

In between naptimes and dishes, Amber Scott escapes into her characters’ addictive lives. She often burns dinner, is hooked on chocolate and still believes in happily ever after. She co-founded the Indie Book Collective and can be found online blogging, tweeting and chatting up the fans in her secret Facebook group, the HOT Club. Grab her latest Kindle bestseller, Fierce Dawn, here.

Twitter: @amberscottbooks

Facebook: Amber Scott Books


http://amberscottbooks.com

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2011 1:17 pm

    Thank you Amber. This was a good post. I’m the middle child so I know all about sibling rivalry. Thankfully, I haven’t seen it too much in my writing circles…yet. 🙂

  2. August 22, 2011 2:49 pm

    I feel the same way all the time despite my genuine happiness for my fellow writers when they succeed. When it happens, I read through my books, read through my reviews, and remind myself that I’m good at what I do.

    Great post; thanks for sharing. Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way. 😉

  3. August 22, 2011 4:06 pm

    I am SO glad Amber wrote this excellent and truly honest post.

    I think it’s so important to own up to our fears as writers. I see lots of different types of folks on Twitter and Facebook, and everyone handles this type of difficulty differently. What makes us grow is recognizing that we’re all human, that these feelings are normal and natural.

    One of my motivating factors to getting my book out was that we had a blog tour coming up and I couldn’t be part of it! All these great authors had all these fab books to promote and here I was…nowhere near ready to publish. So that envy, that desire to be a part of that group worked in my favor. Shifting my focus to what needed to be done, to what problems I could solve worked for me.

    Thanks again, Amber for an enlightening piece.

  4. August 22, 2011 4:37 pm

    I can soooo relate to this. I have a number of author friends who’ve made it in the big time. I don’t begrudge them their well-deserved success. But I had to kick a few cans. It’s good to share these experiences which, as you say, are very, very normal.

  5. August 22, 2011 5:19 pm

    Envy, jealousy will eat away at you unless they motivate you to do something about it. Glad you did.

    eden

  6. August 23, 2011 12:18 pm

    I can SO identify, both with the green monster and with the hubby’s comment about “why do you do it, then?”! I am–slowly–gaining in my indie book sales, though, and I am truly happy for Amber’s success and that of all my other author friends. Keep writing and keep selling!

  7. August 28, 2011 7:42 pm

    Fantastic post, Amber! I love your honesty. You’ve put into words the feelings that, however our better selves may want to deny it, we all feel. Supportive groups like the IBC make all the difference for writers. Keep writing, Amber! You so deserve every ounce of success you’ve earned – and much more to come!!

  8. September 16, 2011 3:00 am

    This is so touching and a wonderful tip especially to authors who are sometimes stuck with a self-pity an d envious feeling. Human as we are, we are prone to becoming competitive even to the people we cherish, however much like you point it out, it is a matter of steering your thoughts to what is right and what matter’s most.

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