Don’t have an arch nemesis? That’s what I thought until the year my book came out.
Someone recently made the comment that we all have an arch nemesis in some area of our lives. She mentioned having a twitter nemesis, (someone on twitter who was going through a similar life experience, but who always seemed to be doing it just a little bit better.) Okay, so we shared a giggle about it, but in the end, this person got under her skin so she unfollowed for her own peace of mind. Sometimes you’ve just got to do the thing that will bring you peace, right?
Shortly after my book came out, my kids started teasing me about having an arch nemeses. The person in question happened to have been an author whose book came out the same time as mine therefore you’d often see our books reviewed at the same time, advertised at the same time and generally in each others’ space. But that’s the way it is in this business. Nothing personal, nothing nasty, it’s all business. Many books are published in a year. My kids, being the kids they are, enjoyed calling this author my arch nemesis even though I would assure them that she was probably a very lovely person should we ever have the good fortune to meet. Of course they weren’t buying it. But that’s my kids!
So whether I liked it or not, it seemed, our books were in competition. How the heck did that happen, I wondered? And was it real or simply imagined, something that came into being from a joke my kids started? I suspect the latter although, I then started to become quite conscious of this particular book after that. It was only natural. Remember how many red cars you saw after you bought yours? And when you were expecting your first grandchild, pregnant woman came at you from everywhere. We notice what we put our attention on.
Since my first book came out I’ve met so many of my fellow authors, and it’s been great making friends. I can’t say enough about how connecting with this wonderful community of writers has meant to me, but I’m not sure that being a part of a community will completely take away our need for “friendly” competition. I’ve heard authors who have felt a bit envious of another author’s book. I say envious, but I mean envious is a friendly way, if you know what I mean. Perhaps a particular book beat theirs out for an award or got more reviews—that sort of thing.
These things are nothing new. It started for some of us on the playground, some kid who was always a wee bit better at everything than we were, and we found ourselves in competition with them again and again. I believe we do sometimes find ourselves in competition with others, whether consciously or unconsciously. It can happen at work or even on a volunteer level. Parents of young children often compare their children’s development, and we’ve all met people I’ll call “one uppers.” No matter what story you have to tell, they have one a bit more spectacular on that exact subject. These competitions are just about everywhere, and I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing so long as it stays on a good-natured level. Can it be avoided? Perhaps if we go through life with blinders on, and keep our minds on doing the best we can in a particular area without worrying about someone else.
Do you agree that we find ourselves in competition with others? Do you have an arch nemesis—real or imagined—in some area of your life? Do you think it’s a bad thing, or do you feel there is nothing wrong with a little “friendly” competition?