Monday 28 March 2011

Sharing the Pie

I had intended to reveal the cover of my novel today, but you’re going to have to wait until next week for that happy event! Over the weekend I was disappointed and my inner equilibrium disturbed. I need to share my thoughts on that.

Writing is a tough career choice. The writing world is full of a huge number of talented people and a limited number of readers. The writing pie is only so big.

Or so I’m told.

I think differently. I think that we can all have a slice of the pie, because there is space ‘out there’ for all our stories to be told. Each writer’s voice is unique and there is a place in this world for that voice to be heard…if we all respect each other and help each other and share in each other’s successes as much as we empathise with each other’s disappointments.

I discovered, though, that the most unexpected people don’t feel like this. To some, their hunger—for fame, for success, for money, or whatever—is so great that they’ll lie (by omission or commission) to friends and colleagues, they’ll use the work and effort of others without acknowledgment and, yes, hungrily grab a slice of pie without so much as a public thank-you.

Will I stop helping those who turn to me for writing advice or assistance? Of course not.

Although, because of other commitments, there may be future times I’ll be unable to help as much as I’d like to, I will, as much as I’m physically able, continue to help those who ask.

Am I a fool? Shouldn’t I retreat into the laager to protect myself and my own writing dreams and ambitions?

I’d rather let the spiritual law of Karma come into play: for every act and choice we make, there is a consequence. And, like love, the writing pie is infinite. The more we put into it, the more it will grow and grow. Those who feed greedily at the trough will, at first, get a bigger slice of the pie because their need is clearly greater.

Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Ghandhi said, ‘The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed.’

If my need for fame and success and wealth is less than another’s, leaving me with a smaller piece of the pie, well, so be it.

Insha'Allah. God's Will. Karma.

Perhaps, in future, I will again be disappointed when someone I liked and trusted, rushes to gobble at the pie, trampling my good will along the way. But, as the heart-warming thanks from writers Damaria Senne and Tiah Marie Beautement and the unexpected kindness of others such as Robert Wilkinson, remind me, there are still many more people out there in the writing world who are happy to share the pie. And it’s those generous writers, who act rather than compete, who continue to make the writing pie delicious and help restore my inner equilibrium.
If you're a follower, don't forget to leave a comment for another chance to win one of those four copies of the brilliant anthology of short stories "Notes from Underground" that are up for grabs! Competition details HERE.
Remember to visit my blog next week to tell me what you think of my book cover!
Free Image from ClipArt


Damaria Senne said...

Ah Judy, I agree with you about sharing the pie making it more delicious. And somehow, when you share, the pie doesn't look so small either.

I have lost count on the number of times other writers helped me when I was a newbie,or when I was writing outside my comfort zone. I'm glad that a few bad experiences will not stop you from sharing in the future.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Absolutely, Damaria. Like the miracle of the five loaves feeding the five thousand, the more you share, the more there is to share! :)

Judy (South Africa)

Claire Robyns said...

Sorry to hear about your experience, but it's great that you're able to put it aside and continue help those that appreciate and acknowledge the help

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

CLAIRE: It's better to keep focused on the good experiences than the bad, and with so many published authors (*cough*cough* no names mentioned!) willing to help, it's not so difficult either! :)

Paul Greci said...

Focusing on the positive--sounds like a good use of energy to me!! :-)

Glynis Jolly said...

I didn't even realize that you were offering help.

My opinion of the financial end of writing is that an author can no long expect to make a living from writing novels alone. I think writers have to be involved in things like articles, teaching, and editing. To take credit for other people's work is disgusting.

Robyn Campbell said...

Judy, you are truly a precious, lovely, most awesome woman. I can't wait to see the cover.

Love the five loaves/five thousand analogy.

I'm angry that someone that you trusted hurt you. That makes me furious. You are a woman who trusts and is willing to help anyone you can. To take credit for another writer's work...well that's just pitiful. Please know that for one person like that, there are so many other writers who look up to you. Me being the number one writer. Christopher says he is the number one person who loves you and looks up to you. :)

I shall enter the contest. Would love to have the anthology. Sending love, kisses, hugs and smiles to you this day. (It's raining here.) And cold. Brrrr

Jayne said...

Judy, I like your philosophy. It's the only way. Otherwise, the pie itself will eat us alive. ;)

Stephanie Faris said...

My husband works in sales and I see it constantly...people jumping in to steal what he's earned. It's a dog-eat-dog world...but I've found, for the most part, publishing hasn't been like that. There are so many out there willing to help others and I believe the greedy ones end up not doing so well. Word spreads in the publishing community. Even if you're too big a person to name the people who have done wrong, others aren't...and it will get out eventually and they'll find themselves ostracized. At least that was what I saw in the romance world...

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

PAUL: In the words of the old Bing Crosby song, we have to Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative…tra la la! Anything else does take too much energy!

GLYNIS: Not that I pro-actively offer help (I have to find time to write too!) but people often drop a line asking this or that, and I’ve been helped so much in my writing journey I like to ‘pay it forward’. I agree that writing novels alone isn’t enough to earn a crust of bread. And in today’s technological landscape, where it’s so easy to copy things, one has to be super-vigilant that – even innocently—one doesn’t take advantage of another’s research, which took hours and weeks of valuable time.

ROBYN: Takes one to recognise one! I LOVE my cover, hope you do to! And because there are so many lovely people out there one (possibly accidental) misuse of my trust isn’t going to be too much of a bother! Tell Christopher he’s my Number One man…oh, wait, Husband says HE’S number One man, so hope Christopher doesn’t mind being No 2!!:) You’re in the anthology draw! Stay warm and well!

JAYNE: Well put! We can only be responsible for our own choices to make sure that pie (In a Stephen King-ish sort of way) doesn’t eat us alive!!

STEPHANIE: I know! My husband (he’s in tax law) had a similar experience a few weeks ago. Sometimes, I just think these things are thoughtlessness, rather than malice (this incident is. I think.) I remember the Janet Dailey/Nora Roberts incident that rocked the romance world a few years back. I’ve never bought or read another Janet Dailey book again, because I couldn’t trust what she wrote. And trust is like that childhood verse “Friendship is like chine, costly, rich and rare. One broken can be mended, but the crack is always there.”

Judith Mercado said...

I love the Ghandhi quote. There is opportunity to find greed in this brave new world of cyberspace. Perhaps because of the roads I choose to take, I have rarely found it. Mostly, I have found magnanimous people willing to experience joy at another's success. I hope whatever guiding mechanism has kept me in the roads of the generous and not of the avaricious will remain intact and operational. I like it there.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Oooo, I can't wait to see your cover!!! I will spread it around when you have the post up. Also, I love that Ghandhi quote. So, so true. I think it's important that we realize we're all in this together. It's sad when so many other people don't see it that way.

Frances Garrood said...

I'm so sorry for your hurt, Judy, (although you don't specify what has happened). My experience is we that writers really do need each other, not least becasue no-one but another writer really understands the problems, the heartache, the excitement, the addiction...well, you know what I mean.

Really looking forward to seeing the new cover!

J.B. Chicoine said...

I'm sincerely sorry that you've had to experience such a disappointment--I suppose I'm still living in my naive little cubicle where I can't imagine that happening, though I know it does. I don't like competition. I just like to do my darndest and I hate to see others hurt. I am glad, though, to see you rise above it...
...and I'm really looking forward to your cover!
All the best to you!

septembermom said...

Judy, I'm so sorry that you had to have such a negative experience, but I feel the beauty and pull of your creative spirit. Your talent will continue to stretch its wings and bring joy to all who read your words. I'm really excited about your book cover too. Wishing you all the best in the world.

Also, you won over at WWP. Congrats!! Thank you for sharing your creativity with us. Here is the link:

Misha Gerrick said...

I'm a firm believer in the fact that the wheel turns. May the vehicle turning the wheel be a monster truck when you get round to topside. ;-)

PS. I have an award for you at my blog.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

JUDITH: Yes, I also prefer to stay in that generous place where greed doesn’t find a foothold. It can try, but-like an uninvited guest-it can just leave. The Gandhi quote is so true.

MICHELLE: That thought – that we’re all in this together – extends so far. Traditional and Indie authors. Animals and humans, The Earth and our needs. We’re all in it together, and we all need to realise that. Thanks for the heads up on the cover – your support has been phenomenal!

FRANCES: It was too long a story to go into details, so here are the essentials: I was asked for help on the basis of x, the situation was y, I gave confidential research information thinking I was helping author decide about x, and author used said information in public forum as their own knowledge) And, yes, only other authors can really understand the highs and the lows, the joys and the defeats, and we do need each other. Luckily I find this the exception rather than the rule.

JB: I’m also non-competitive and a bit naïve in my expectations of the world. I push myself hard, but if someone sees that as throwing a challenge down, I back off, because it’s not about competing with others, it’s about pushing myself to be the best I can be. Thanks for the understanding! And I’d rather be naïve than cynical.

KELLY: Well, if my words can bring joy to even one person, I’ll be ecstatic. Thanks for your kind words. And I’ve WON at WWP!! Yay! (Can’t remember what I wrote though, it’s been a hectic week!)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Judy,

Great post. I agree- there is enough for everyone. Am thinking of you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Judy .. there is plenty of pie - and each will get their just desserts (I hope!).

People are incredibly selfish .. I,I,I,I, just doesn't work in the big bad world .. pushy is too much .. sorry to hear this muddy bit ..

You be you .. as you feel you can - some are sharers and carers .. they're the best ..

Cheers Hilary

Anonymous said...

Hi Judy, I'm sorry you had a bad experience. But it is true, what you put out into the universe is what you will get back.

Anita said...

I'm a big believer in karma...but if you ever need a break, Judy, take it! You gotta put the oxygen mask on yourself first.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Ghandi also said my motto : We must be the change we want to see in the world.

It is easy to feel resentment when others steal from us or shove us aside hurtfully. But resentment is a poison we take, hoping it kills the person who hurt us!

Thanks for your kind comment on Elliot's blog on my book, THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS. I pray this next week brings healing and happy surprises your way, Roland

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

MISCHA: Haha! Now I have another Stephen King-esque vision of that monster truck bearing down…! Thanks for the blog award – a lovely surprise!

NANCY: Too true! There *is* enough for everyone.

HILARY: That’s why I sometimes despair of people: humanity has such great potential and yet we seem to prefer to choose the lower self (the “i”/ego) over the higher self (the “I”/soul) As you say so truly, a person has to be what they are: a giraffe can’t be an eagle, but it can be the best giraffe it can be! :)

AFRICA2ASIA: Yup…the wheel turns, and the thought scares me into paralysis sometimes, because what if I make a mistake and that great wheel of karma just keeps creaking on and on… :O

ANITA: I’d agree with about grabbing the oxygen mask for myself first…if I was in an aeroplane hurtling earthwards (the thought of that is why I hate flying!). But somehow I can’t quite bring myself to see writing as a life or death situation in which a choice is made to ignore the word “confidential.” To me, that says more about ego then it does about character and, while a healthy ego is necessary to help us navigate out way through a sometimes dangerous world, when that ego becomes our master rather than our servant, karma gets dirty!

ROLAND: Ooh, yes! That’s another of my favourite Gandhi quotes (and the essence of my novel which will be out in May!!) No one can change external events that happen, but we can change (or at least master) our reactions to that event. Can’t wait to read Hibbs the Bear’s story – will get that review up asap!

Helen Ginger said...

Judy, you're doing something that's not easy. You're forgiving (but not necessarily forgetting) a wrong.

Am really looking forward to seeing the book cover.

Elliot Grace said...

One could fill a library with Ghandi's thoughts, and a wonderful place it would be:) Great post as always, Judy, and please keep me updated on that cover!


Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

HELEN: :) I can understand (who knows what secret sorrows another has that drive their choices?), but I'm not stupid: I won't forget.

ELLIOT: A place filled with the wisdom of Gandhi and all the sages...that would be a wonderful place indeed! Next week will be all about my cover - including a conversation with the artist! :)

Anonymous said...

I am definitely looking forward to hearing about your cover!

Helen Ginger

Lauri said...

Oh Judy how crappy! From my experience most writers are lovely and generous, but there are a few snakes in the grass. My advice stomp them hard so they don't hurt others. I help other writers but I'm cautious, one smell of snakiness and I am out of there.

As a writer is is imperative to keep control of your headpspace. Naysayers are plenty, act like a mirror to those words, bounce them back to the giver. I always tell people in writing it's 20% talent, 80% hardwork and fortitude. Plenty of writers far more talented than I will never be published. They allowed the negative words to take root.

Yes, there are many writers. But I'm a reader who can read a book a week sometimes more. Can they keep me supplied? And I am not alone.

Don't succomb to the negative or it will suck you up like quicksand and you won't stand a chance.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

HELEN: Monday's the big day! I'm surprisingly nervous about revealing my cover and vacilate between thinking it's beautiful and hating it! Is that normal, I wonder? Thursday I'm doing an extra post - a transcript of the a conversation I had with the artist explaining the artwork I used. Hope you'll enjoy!

LAURI: Yes, so many writers are helpful and friendly - that's why I feel it's so important to "pay-it-forward". It's inevitable that one steps on the occassional snake but, luckily, as Africa isn't for sissies, we can cope with snakes of all shapes and sizes! :)

The great Sophia Loren agrees with you! I have a quote of hers in my motivation box which says:

"Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent." (Sophia Loren)

Thanks for holding a smiley stick to help me out of the quick-sand! :) That's why I'll keep on - for every one snake, there are 100 more lovely and generous writers! Hope you & Mr K had a good time in Gaberone (eating enchiladas at Spur - oh, the suffering one has to endure...!)

Helen Ginger said...

I'm baaackk, to quote an old movie line. And I'll be back Monday to hear about the cover art. I'm quite interested in that since I would be totally clueless about creating a brilliant cover (or even a mediocre one).

And I hope you're beginning to feel less hurt about what happened. You have a ton of supporters who are here for you.

Caryn Caldwell said...

I'm sorry that someone hurt you, but I think your attitude is perfect! The thing is, there are some selfish (or worse) people out there, but by and large I think most people are essentially kind. And maybe by helping them, you'll encourage them to help others in turn.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Love the Ghandi quote. It fits with the theme of BLOOD SAFARI, which I'm currently reading. Have you read that? I think you'd like it. I'd love to see your cover when you're ready to share and I'd love to tap your experience when I'm ready to do the same. A pie can be sliced many different ways, but some do have a bigger appetite than others.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

HELEN: You're baaack! Yaaay!! :):) You're *always* welcome!! (and how you manage to always leave a comment on the blogs you visit astounds me!)And I'm fine now, actually, more than fine. I have a warm fuzzy feeling because so many authors proved that niceness really is the norm!

CARYN: Thanks for the visit! And, yes, I think most people are essentially kind and prefer to give rather than take. It's finding teh right balance between giving and taking that's important, I think. Remember the Elton John song from that brilliant movie The Lion King, Circle of Life, "Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give". I loved that song and that movie (howl my eyes out every time I watch it!)

YVONNE: My father-in-law loves Deon Meyer, but that's not a genre I favour, so I haven't read any of his books yet. My cover's up later today...eeek! Excited, but anxious! And I'll be putting up posts over the next few months as things happen, just to share the self-publishing journey!