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 We were both unpublished.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.
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.
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