Publishing is a relatively small world, especially in the confines of RWA. Even though there are upwards to 9000 members in our community, chances are you “know” many of the membership, whether it be through the online world of the RWA yahoo groups, online chapters, or live chapters. Most of the active members have “met” one way or another.
The sense of community we have is very strong, but like with any close-knit family, our closeness can also be our weakness.
We’re only human, after-all.
We’re not only human, most of us in RWA are also women.
Women are funny creatures. I’ve had (almost) 39 years to study them, me being a woman and all. On the whole, we are fiercely loyal, hardworking, supportive, and creative. I wish I could stop with our positive traits. I do. Because our positive traits are what make us such good mothers, wives, friends and employees.
Unfortunately, being human and all, we women also have a set of negative traits we carry around. Most times, we keep them buried because they directly interfere with the very things that make us so awesome.
Sometimes we have no choice but to be ugly. It’s a part of who we are. Something important in our life is threatened and Katie bar the door, we come out bearing our claws and fangs. We do what we have to do to make things right for those we love.
But in our little family of writers, I’ve noticed another kind of ugliness. Not the kind that comes out when someone you love is threatened, but the kind that rears its head for no reason other than pettiness. Ugliness. Bitterness.
Some people (mostly women, though I have heard a few things from some men in the industry as well) will badmouth anyone, whether they know them or not. It makes them feel better about their own mediocrity to bag on the successes of others—who happen to be mostly women. Funny that.
In a community built for women, by women, I am constantly surprised at the sniping and backbiting that goes on here. Are we adults? Because after some of the things I’ve heard, I have to wonder.
Publishing is constantly changing and you either change with it, or fade away. Nobody is successful because of pure luck. Sure, luck has something to do with it, but their success was built on the back hard work. They write, sweat, toil, and bleed over their manuscripts. Oftentimes they sign with their perfect agent who works, sweats, toils and bleeds over the negotiations. As a new writer, we want to take the first offer given. We have to leave it in the hands of our agent who work hard at getting us the best deal possible.
I’m almost amused by the whisperings I hear. Instead of genuine happiness, you hear things like “I bet that was a small deal. Probably just the basic. No negotiation there. She’s wasting commission with that agent.” Or “She’ll never sell through that advance.” So, damned if we do, damned if we don’t?
It’s hard work. All around. And in this world, the only way to succeed is to continue working hard. Badmouthing others might serve as temporary lidocaine to the bitterness in your gut, but it certainly won’t get that book written. Or more money in your pocket. Or make you happy with your career or lack thereof. And it won’t make those who are happy and successful any less so.
I guess all in all, this post boils down to choice. We’ve all had these feelings; it’s how we choose to act on those feelings that matters.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Willie Nelson