The other day a novelist complained that J K Rowling was making it harder for other authors, and why didn’t she just stop?
To me it came across as a ‘she’s had her turn, now it’s mine’ kind of argument.
It’s common enough in writing. I had something similar happen many years ago when I was working as a professional historian in Hawke’s Bay. A local history enthusiast rang up the local newspaper editor and actually told him I’d had my turn. Then she proceeded to gather up her enthusiast friends and conduct a public crusade against everything I did.
Not the worst display of malice I’ve been subjected to as a result of writing history, but the attitude was clear – ‘You’ve got my slice of pie, and I’m going to destroy you.’
Never mind that the targeted author actually created the slice that the rival author covets.
This is where ‘academic jealousies’ come from too. Ultimately, such selfish ambition highlights the darker side of the human condition.
It’s also entirely wrong. You see, the writing pie grows with its authors. We all have something to contribute. And if someone does so – spectacularly – then that’s good for all. Rowling is a case in point. There are kids who discovered reading through Harry Potter. She opened up a new world for them – a world where other writers get to add their part.
The same’s true for Rowling’s adult books. The publicity around them raises the profile of all books for all authors. ‘Hey guys – writing’s out here!’
See what I mean about the pie growing? It’s all to do with attitude. The people who get angry and want to destroy the success of others are the losers – they don’t realise that success is made. It isn’t handed out. And it isn’t a limited resource that must be taken off whoever has it.
Of course, human nature being what it is, that’s all too often what seems to happen. I’ve used writing as an example here – but it’s generally true.
My take? Don’t complain about people who’ve created something – knuckle down, do the hard yards, and join the fun, making sure you put your own original thought into what you’re doing. There’s more for everybody. And everybody wins.
Get that? Everybody wins.
A proverbial good thing. Isn’t it? Certainly better than jealously smashing something in order to deny it to its creator.
What do you figure?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014
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