California weather is so bipolar. Right now it feels like spring and I’m getting that lazy I-don’t-want-to-do-my-homework feeling because I know testing season is coming up. If I remember correctly from last year, I didn’t get much writing done. Meanwhile, my plotline mutates like it’s been sitting in Marie Curie’s laboratory. I’ll just nip some of the crazier developments in the bud.
As summer comes around again, I start getting nostalgic for some reason. So now as I make the switch from warm pajamas to nightgowns, I’m thinking about rivals again and why I never want one. Here, rival means someone around my skill level that I can compete against. Most people on my level were my friends, and I don’t really like competing with my friends. I’m afraid that a rival would bea distraction, because I almost had one and I took him way too seriously.
It really embarrasses me to remember those days. I was immature, still thinking I was going to be a published teenage author (hold back your groans–I learned better) and so did that guy. Maybe he still does. I don’t know.
Well, we were writers with a common goal, so my brain sort of automatically logged him as my rival. And it was pretty terrible, because I didn’t like him one bit on a personal level, so how could I respect him as a rival? I celebrated my victories and his setbacks. I don’t know how he felt about me, but if he called me a friend, I would have lashed out. We had written the same number of words over the summer, but he felt he had the right to lord it over us all because he had finished his draft. I estimated that I was only a third done. This guy was annoying, and above all, he was arrogant. I don’t care too much about your skill level as long as you know where you are, but clearly, despite community responses, he had no idea that he wasn’t as good as he thought he was. I would say that he was disliked, but maybe most of the forum didn’t even waste that much thought on him. I’ve never asked.
Now, I don’t even care. Irrational hatred burns up quickly more than anything, I find. We plod along, and I no longer have to look behind my shoulder for him because that doesn’t matter. As long as he thinks he’s good, he won’t progress, even though he says so. I have taken the opposite approach, endless self-deprecation. Not necessarily healthier, but I am so afraid of becoming him that I can’t help myself.
The writers I trust enough to work with have helped me so much more. We all get our fair share of criticism from each other, but the atmosphere is so much more healthy. I think less about one-upping the other guys and more about just improving for the sake of improving, and perhaps most importantly, giving something back to them. So instead of competing and living on the misfortune of others, I gained something from interacting with them. We all did. Law of equivalent exchange and all that.
And that is why I believe that people like me who easily explode with anger at things that aren’t worth the attention should be really careful when they pick rivals.