Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All About the Attitude

I received the nicest e-mail today. Made my day, my week, my whole year.

Thank you, again, to the fabulous Marilyn Brant, whose debut ACCORDING TO JANE is coming out in October 2009, published by Kensington.

And Marilyn got me thinking about two things: keeping a positive attitude and professional jealousy.

On the first topic... keeping positive in this business is always tough. And for me these past couple of years, I'd venture to say extremely tough. (The post Molly made about surviving the submission process was at least in part directed at the insanity she's been seeing in me lately. (Although me reading secret messages into Molly's blog post may just be a symptom of my insanity.)

Anyone who knows me well, knows I'm no Pollyanna, but I think I can be balanced. While I admit I've been imagining the worst case scenario a lot lately and second guessing many things, I just as often concoct elaborate best case scenario fantasies and find the silver lining in my defeats. Keeping your chin up is hard in this business, unless you're totally naive or deluded.

But on to professional jealousy. That's one place where I hope Molly's fab line about crazy inviting professional jealousy over for a BBQ wasn't directly aimed at me. Because I think my brand of crazy tends to invite insecurity over more often than professional jealousy. In fact, these past months, I think my crazy has invited insecurity over for more than a BBQ. They've been shacking up. I'm hoping they get into a monster fight and break it off soon. (Sadly, crazy and insecurity seem made for each other.)

And as Sinead said in her great post a couple of weeks ago, (that I also read secret messages directed to me in), a little insecurity can be a good thing. It can make us try harder to continually get better.

But back to the topic at hand. While I can't claim never to have felt professional jealousy, I also don't think it's one I dwell on. I really can't see the point. If author X sells a book, or does really well, I really don't see how that affects me, except that if I know them, I enjoy sharing in their joy. Love, love, love seeing books written by people I know, or know of, on the shelves or on bestseller lists.

And when people on writers loops get their collective noses all out of joint when a celebrity sells a book for huge bucks. Do I wish I had a big book deal? Sure. But a celebrity getting one doesn't have anything to do with me, so why be jealous or angry? I can't offer a publisher a huge platform or built in readership like a celebrity, or even an already well-established author can.

And even if the publishing world worked in such a way that there were a finite number of publishing contracts available, such that if someone I know scored one, that was one less chance for me, I think that 99% of the time I'd still be genuinely pleased for the person who got one. But publishing doesn't really work like that and I am always glad to hear about other writers getting contracts or their books selling well or hitting lists.

The only times I felt some serious professional jealousy, leading me to say spiteful things to my friends about another writer, it's related to very specific situations where I felt either like I'd been used, or said person became condescending after selling, as if they suddenly knew some secret, or possessed more talent, just because they got a contract before me. Especially if said contract is with a publisher I wouldn't want to be published by. That bugs me. But 99.9% of writers I know aren't like that at all.

99.9% of the writers I know are the most supportive people I've come across in my entire life.

Thanks again for your kind words, Marilyn. You rock!


Amy Ruttan said...

Hugs to you Maureen. You rock. :)

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, Maureen, you're so welcome. :-)Back at'cha, my friend!

Kwana said...

Maureen that was so well said. You're the best.

Kristen Painter said...

I think what's so hard about professional jealousy is seeing someone get published who you think doesn't write as well as you. That's a tough one to overcome. Professional jealousy sucks, but it's a part of this business.

Maureen McGowan said...

Thanks for the hugs!

And Kristen, you're right. But even there, I find it more frustrating than something to get jealous about. We all know the business is not only subjective, it has a good dose of randomness, too.

Just gotta keep spinning the roulette wheel.

Cindy Procter-King said...

It's definitely a roulette wheel, Maureen, and you're right that the only solution is to keep spinning it. My big goal this year is to maintain a positive attitude. I really do think it helps.


Kimber Chin said...

As far as I can see there are two types of people in the world.

Scarcity folks believe that if someone wins, there is one less win for everyone else. Success is finite. They tend to be unhappy with other people's successes.

World of abundance people believe that good fortune is unlimited (or even more so, that if you know someone successful, you are MORE likely, not less, to become successful). They figure there's plenty of success to go around.

You, Maureen, are a world of abundance person. IMHO, that makes you the best type of folk.

Hugs, hugs, and more hugs.

Maria Geraci said...

Excellent post, Maureen. And great advice for everyone. Getting a publishing contract doesn't mean the insecurity/professioal jealousy ends. I actually think it gets worse:(

Sinead M said...

Great post, Maureen. I think there is always going to be struggle in this business, either before publication, or afterwards.
I'm always thrilled for someone I know,especially if I know they worked their butts off to get there..

here's hoping.

Molly O'Keefe said...

my post was inspired by you - but mostly because you're trying so hard not to give into the crazy and that's really freaking hard.

A positive attitude is best maintained while a little bit drunk - can you sustain a buzz for the next few months?

Can Marilyn write me a great email when next I am in submission hell?

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh and professional jealousy is my angry lover...hate to admit it but it's true. I can't love it, can't stop messing around with it.

Eileen said...


I think your crazy and your insecurity had a secret baby that's living underneath my bed whispering hideous things to me while I sleep! I so feel your pain.


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