Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finding Joy in Other's Success

I'm still on my blogging vacation. It's been fabulous. Last week was my most productive week in a year. So I'm not back for real yet, but I wanted to pop in to share something I've been thinking about.

Last week, my good friend Caroline Starr Rose sold her debut MG novel. This, coupled with Beth Revis's wonderful news, got me thinking about how great it is to be able to be happy for other's successes.

In high school I sang in a really good choir. I love to sing and in many ways it was a wonderful experience, but it was also kind of awful. The kids were cutthroat. Auditions for solos were tough, feelings were always hurt, and mean-girl (and boy) backbiting was constant. Everyone wanted to be the best and when someone got the solo, everyone else hated that person.

It wasn't a very nurturing environment.

The writing community hasn't been like this at all--at least for me. Every time a writer friend has achieved a goal, I've been genuinely thrilled for them. I don't know why this is exactly. I get jealous of people all the time--mostly people who have perfect hair and makeup everyday, have immaculate houses, and always have well behaved children--I hate people like that. But I haven't had a moment of real jealousy over a writer friend's triumph.

Maybe it's because I appreciate the work that goes into writing a novel. It's hard. When a person sells a book, I know they've probably worked for years to make this dream come true.

Caroline is one of these people. She's worked hard. Her work is brilliant, and she totally deserves this victory. When she emailed me Friday to tell me her book sold I jumped and squeed and felt true joy in her success.

How about you? Is it easier to feel happy for other writers' successes than it is to feel happy for your neighbor who got a promotion and bought a new car? Does knowing what's gone into getting a book deal make it easier to be delighted when someone else reaches that milestone?

Head on over to Caroline's blog to share congratulations!

I'll probably still be out on blog vacation for a few more weeks, but I am going to try to get around to a few of your blogs and see what's happening with you.

31 comments:

Jen said...

I would say I am in full agreement with you! I love seeing a writer get to fufill the dream we are all working towards! I don't get jealous of them when at times in other areas I do, I think you're right though, you know all the hard work that goes into it, and you are proud to see one more person make it happen!

Melissa said...

Absolutely! Now that I'm actively writng a book and I know firsthand how hard it is, I am thrilled when I hear of a fellow writer's success. It's so nice to hear other writers being supportive when someone gets an agent or sells a book. One of the many things I love about the writing community:)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Wow. I think you're great, did you know that? Thank you so much for this. I really have come to learn (though it took some time) that one person's success doesn't limit my ability to succeed.

The writing world is much more supportive than the dancing world. I danced ballet seriously for ten years. I'll still go to a performance and cry seeing the beauty and expression possible with movement. What other art form uses the body as its medium? The brutal competition for roles or even praise in class, those are things I'll never miss.

beth said...

Thanks for the shout-out :)

I think knowing how much work can go into writing certainly helps to limit jealousy. Also: knowing that I could never write what someone else did. When you're singing a song, there's a level of consistency. Everyone singing is trying to sing the *same* song, just sing it the best. But writing's different. We each have a different book to write. And there is no one best book--everyone has a different best book. That certainly takes away some of the competition.

That, and the writing community is so darn friendly!

Jemi Fraser said...

I agree as well. Writers are incredibly supportive of each other and the trials and tribulations. I've met so many amazing people. I'm always thrilled when they succeed.

Hardygirl said...

I totally agree. I love our network of writer support. I want us all to succeed!

sf

Kelly Lyman said...

I totally agree (and so hear you on the choir thing...I still sing in various groups and even as adults that stuff still goes on- too many divas!) I think I feel the same way because I've found nothing but support with the writing community. And I agree with the hard working concept as well.

5kidswdisabilities said...

I think you must live a happy life, without resentment. I, too, feel happy for others. I even felt happy for the guy who got my promotion instead of me. Not a speckle of resentment and I support him all the way. Living such a life means there are no disappointments!
Lindsey Petersen

Aubrie said...

I think music is different because I'm way more competitive with my flute than with my writing. Writing is so subjective, and we are all writing about different things. I think I'd only get jealous if someone wrote the same book as me and got published first! ha!

Jody Hedlund said...

Just read her news! How exciting! And I think you're right. I've come to realize that the "pie" is really big enough for all of us. We can all enjoy supporting one another and rejoicing in the triumphs because there's enough joy and success for all of us!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

CONGRATS to Caroline and Beth! I cried (happy tears) when I got your great news email, so apparently I don't get jealous. Just very happy. :)

kimberlyloomis said...

Congratulations to them both! I have some jealousy but, truthfully, when I know the person either online or in real life, I'm excited to hear the good news. Still jealous, but very happy for them.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I knew about Beth, but not Caroline. How exciting!

I'm with you- the online writing community is uber-supportive! I don't know what I'd do without everyone!

Catherine Denton said...

So wonderful!! Yes, I agree. This community just breeds encouragement.

VR Barkowski said...

Super post, Natalie! The online community is *so* supportive. It's such a joy to share in the excitement of another writer's success. Such triumphs remind us our dreams are attainable with hard work and perseverance.

Vonna said...

Wonderful post! It has been so exciting to see my critique partners get agents, book deals and have launches for their books, and that excitement extends to all of the writers whose blogs I read. It is such a supportive community and I am lucky to be part of it.

I agree with what Beth said; there is no best book. During the recent controversy over Goodreads, I deleted all my ratings for books. The star ratings can never be apples to apples, because each book is unique.

Patti said...

I've been amazed at how little jealousy there seems to be in the writing world. It's a refreshing change.

CKHB said...

You are so right. And... EEEE! Yay for Caroline, off to her blog...

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I totally agree. I love supporting my writing friends. But jealousy is a weird beast that can come out to play at unexpected times. I wrote about this last week and it seemed to really touch a nerve.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Both of these pieces of news really made my week. We are kind of like one big blogging family. Even though we don't always have time to visit everyone's blogs, we kind of have a feel for who everyone is. And it is such a good feeling to know one of us succeeded. Kind of like we are united in one cause, and one person's success fuels our own.

Lisa and Laura said...

I couldn't agree more. I can't think of anything more exciting than our friends, the people who have worked so hard at a shared dream, sell their words. It's absolutely magical. I'm glad everyone feels the same way!

Paul Greci said...

I love seeing writers get book deals. It's totally exciting. No matter what stage you are at as a writer you know how much work went into that book that sold! Everytime I look at the list of blogs I follow I hope to see the words book deal in the subject headings.

Elana Johnson said...

I think you're absolutely right. Every sale means the publishing industry is alive and well. It means that might book might sell. It means that there's hope. I love sharing in the success of my fellow writers! There's room for every good book on the shelf!

Dawn Simon said...

I agree! The writing community is so unique. People totally help each other, and knowing how much goes into a book--it's exciting and inspiring when you hear others are making it!

Enjoy the rest of your bloggy vacation! :)

Voidwalker said...

That is very exciting and encouraging.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I do sometimes feel envy at others who seem to have it together - but when my blogging friends get book deals it is personally thrilling! I feel like a part of it. That I can't wait to read the book because I know a little bit about the author and the struggles to success.
YEAH BETH AND CAROLINE!

Shelley Sly said...

Hey, I saw you over on Tara's blog and thought I'd pop in and say hi. I completely agree with this post (and wrote a similar one myself.) It's funny, I have a tendency to be jealous in general too, but not in the writing world. I think it's wonderful that we all cheer each other on! :)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I quite agree with you - when it comes to writing, I am genuinely thrilled at the success of my friends.
/ Random Aside - I am also genuinely thrilled when friends manage to lose weight.

Heather Sunseri said...

I can't agree with you more, Natalie! I love to see others succeed in this world - writing and elsewhere! I espeially love it when i know the person and the hard work and perseverance that went into that success. It makes it that much sweeter!

davidfweisman said...

Well, I reviewed the work of a really great writer some time ago who probably deserves to beat me into print, and I think I'll find the courage to be happy for him if and when he does. On the other hand, we're not all choirboys - or maybe I mean we are, after reading your post.

Terri Tiffany said...

Congrats to Caroline!! I feel the same way you do about other's successes. I am sooo thrilled when I hear them cause yes, I know how hard it is. It also encourages me to keep on.
Enjoy your break!