Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Positive Envy

It shows when a peer gets a good review. We grumble when another has a successful signing. A good contract—well, you get the idea.

It may be human nature to covet the good fortune of others. But such expressions of spite are negative envy, which is not a good thing. In its stead we should employ positive envy. Positive envy, you might ask. Is there such a thing?

Most definitely. People, however, have a tendency to envy others and pass off their good fortune as luck. Webster defines luck as a casual event or accident. A secondary definition is having good fortune or being successful.

In one form or another, luck crosses our path every day. How we respond determines the outcome of these exposures. The same applies to our reaction to the luck of others.

One positive aspect is to employ envy as a stimulus. Instead of being jealous, examine what the other writer did to achieve good results. Consider how you might profit by their example.

You might also consider what I have dubbed OPW. This is a most valuable procedure many overlook. In business there’s a principle called OPM (Other People’s Money) which means you get someone to assist when you have insufficient resources. With OPW (Other People’s Work), you utilize another person’s labor to supplement or conserve your own energy.

You can start by seeking mentors, people with wider knowledge and experience who are willing to share what they have learned.

Another aspect is that of cause and effect. It may be a cliché, but we really do get what we give out. The Internet has vastly expanded opportunities for networking. But don’t forget, networking is a two-way street. Be prepared to share. If you want your work critiqued, be willing to do something in return. If you want a contact, be willing to offer something in exchange. In biblical terms, do unto others…

For example, Ray Bradbury never went to college. Instead he educated himself in the public library, spending all day, three times a week for a period of 10 years. In gratitude, he later made a habit of organizing fundraisers for libraries.

Ford Madox Ford, a stellar writer himself, is today best known as a promoter of other writers—Conrad, Hemingway, scores of others. The best thing we can do for our fellow writers is promote them—read and review their work, recommend them to friends and family. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.


Beryl Reichenberg said...

I agree. When you give a bit of your time or expertise, you almost always get something back in return, whether it is new information, a critique, a review or maybe just a new contact. Beryl

Maryann Miller said...

I like promoting authors whose work I enjoy and respect. Have done that naturally for a long time, and I love it when I get a note thanking me for the support. Likewise, I always try to remember to thank my fellow authors who give me a boost.