Something really cool just happened for my good friend Adam J. Whitlatch. He has been chosen to write the novelization of the animated movie War of the Worlds: Goliath. I just watched the trailer. It looks awesome, and I can’t wait to see how Adam makes it work in a novel.
Whenever someone I know has this kind of success. It gets me thinking about the attitudes we can have when someone else gets good and well-deserved news.
To me, it seems like there are two ways to react to someone else’s win. The first, and I think more juvenile way is to curse the success of others, to pile on projections of our own inadequacies, whether it’s taking a jab an A-list author or badmouthing peers behind their back. Putting down other writers, or “talking smack,” not only wastes your time and energy, it is unprofessional and counterproductive. In a worst case scenario, you may be burning a bridge.
Is it possible to be a prick and be successful? Sure, it happens every day. But I don’t want to be that guy.
A drum corps parable:
There was a small corps in the 1960s, back in the days when the VFW judged regional shows. One of the members of this corps asked their instructor why another corps was always scoring higher, since the other corps sucked. The assembled corps members cheered on their fellow.
The instructor looked over his corps and said, “Well, if they keep scoring better than you, and they suck, then you must sub-suck. So, if you want to practice some more maybe you can get better, and some day you can suck too.”
The more mature way of dealing with the success of others is easier, causes less stress, and maybe will even make you feel better about yourself. You feel good for the other person, and you walk away with a lighter soul, without acting like a total douche.
So, what if you are a total douche? Well, sometimes it is better to bury your natural instincts.
Here’s the thing: Writing, and life, is not a basketball game. There isn’t one winner and one loser. Just because someone has good news doesn’t mean you’ve lost some kind of game. You can choose to be consumed by the jealousy of others, or you can look at their accomplishment, be happy for them, and move on. Because you’re not going to find your own happiness by sitting around complaining about how unlucky you are, or how much better you are than everyone else.
As for me, I’m looking forward to reading Adam J. Whitlatch’s novelization. I’m hoping that–baring contractual issues, as I don’t really know how novelizations work–I’ll even be able to beta read it.