Writing: It’s Not a Competition

Back in 2006, I attended the New York Writer’s Group Pitch and Shop. I was a complete newbie to the publishing world, desperate (just like the other 40 or so writers present) to find an agent. Instead I found fellow writer Roberta Gately, who was even shorter than me — and even more determined to get published. Her no nonsense attitude drew me in immediately, and we kept in touch once the conference ended.

Two years later, Roberta was one of the first people I told when Oliver’s Surprise found a home with a publisher. And even though she hadn’t yet found a publisher for Lipstick in Afghanistan, Roberta was so ecstatic for me she called with congratulations. Her genuine enthusiasm taught me something extremely valuable: we are NOT in competition with our writing buddies.

Meeting more authors

Fast forward another two years, and I got a reciprocal email from Roberta: Lipstick would come out the following year! She also invited me to join a fledgling Writer’s Promotion group based in the Boston area. Though it was a bit of a hike from Rhode Island, I attended several meetings — planning sessions for book launch parties punctuated by gleeful announcements of debuts. Since then, I’ve kept in Facebook-touch with many of the authors in that group—including Chris Abouzeid and Kathy Crowley, who recently opened Belmont Books. I learned a ton from those generous writers, and hopefully I provided a little knowledge (at least about sailing) in return.

More books, more better

For those of us used to measuring our success in racing terms (winning, on the podium, top ten, top half), it’s a big adjustment to realize that selling novels is not a competition. If a reader chooses to buy another book instead of the one I wrote, that’s not the other author’s fault—it’s because my book hasn’t done its job. The more we support each other, the better we’ll all do—and the less lonely this writing life will be.

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