Reason #10 I love going to writers’ conferences: never having to choose sides for volleyball (or softball or basketball . . . ). You see, I possess no eye/hand coordination. Zippo. My left hand is only there to make me look symmetrical. Strictly window dressing. It’s a wonder I can type. So, it’s a real load off not having to demonstrate my athletic ineptitude for the astonishment of my fellow writers. Oh, sure, authors can be strong athletes, but I’m confident a lot of us were picked last (or next to last on a good day) when choosing teams in gym class. We were out of our element and there was no competing with the real sports people.
Of course, that doesn’t mean authors don’t engage in our own kind of competition. I’m not talking about contests. It’s more about the weird competitive dynamic among writers seeking to be published. We have this crazy notion in our heads that there are a finite number of publishing contracts to be had and when one of our fellow writers snags one, that’s one less available for us. Well, hey, now. It’s not like that. There’s no song that goes like “A hundred publishing contracts on the wall, a hundred publishing contracts, take one down, pass it around, ninety-nine publishing contracts on the wall . . . .” (Thank goodness because that would be really tedious.)
The truth is, we compete with ourselves for what we want. We compete with our own schedules, inner critic and insecurities for dominance. We are not competing against each other. We are not rivals. We can all win. And for the record, it’s been my experience that children’s writers are among the most generous, supportive and encouraging people toddling on ten toes. My husband was shocked by this. He couldn’t understand why writers would be so helpful to people who are their competitors. Maybe it is odd–but the good kind.
And, by the way, if we were choosing sides for volleyball, I would totally pick you. (But please, please don’t bump the ball to me!)
I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it. ~ Walt Disney