Thursday 18 March 2010

Competitive? No way. I just like being first.

I am beginning to realise how horribly competitive I am. It’s not a nice trait and I wouldn’t even mind if I spent my time being competitive about sensible things. But it’s as though, if I see a list, I have to be at the top of it.

Take Authonomy for example. Put up my book, Walker. Got great feedback, more than enough to fix the book. Could I leave it there? Oh no. ‘I’ll just get into the top 100,’ I thought. Then, ‘Well, maybe the top fifty.’ And so it went until I ended up making my eyes bleed by reading enough books to haul mine into the top five. Was that enough? Nope, had to get the Number One spot. And what for? So an editor at HarperCollins could tell me what a bunch of fellow authors had already said time and time again.

So, when I got a third of the way through my new work in progress, what did I do? Yup, you got it. Bunged it up again. This time I am fighting myself, I really am – I am purposely not pushing it. But the feedback is great. Samael is aimed at the top end of the Young Adult readership. It’s what is now called ‘dark romance’ (you’d better believe it, Waterstones have a whole section devoted to it). In other words, it’s classic Twilight stuff – girl falls in love with boy (except he’s not exactly human). Fear not, there are no vampires and no fallen angels. It’s an interesting genre because basically it straddles both romance and horror (so right up my street).

If you fancy taking a read – you can check it out here.

Meanwhile, Mrs Competitive has discovered there are awards for writers who are also bloggers. Once again, my paw is up there, waving frantically, ‘Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!’ Sad, isn’t it?

Do you think I didn’t get enough recognition as a child? Was I an overlooked adolescent? What makes me want to win so desperately? Even more worryingly is the fact that often I won’t even enter the race because, conversely, I’m too scared of losing.

Ergo, no way would I go in for the mother’s race at school. I won’t enter the squash league and will only play small uncoordinated children (see, this is getting really shameful now, isn’t it?).  I'm still getting over my cupcakes not being picked in English Mum's competition! 

A few days ago, someone told me that Walker was mentioned on the website of a radio station in New Hampshire. I scurried over and found that, yes, there it was – at number two in the chart. And if it got to number one? I’d have the huge honour of having it recorded to be broadcast to the brave listeners. Only thing – I’d have to pay for the privilege. Was I horrified? Did I walk away in disgust? No way. I voted for myself.

Thing is, how far do you let your children know about such unsavoury traits? James goes to a school which believes in ‘healthy’ competition – in that they play competitive sport (though give everyone a bash) and have scores and awards and merits. But I bite my lip and try to be a good liberal parent, not to push, not to urge him to barge his way to the front of the queue. I think that’s right. I hope it’s okay. But then, I figure children make up their own minds. James picks his battles – is furiously competitive in sport but can’t be arsed with academic prowess.

Ah well. Confession is good for the soul and I feel somewhat purged for owning up to my sordid secret. By the way, if you get a chance – do cast a vote for me, won’t you? (you think I’m joking??)


muddyboots said...

fantastic, another competitive person, join the club, l do not do 2nd or 3rd, l would die in trying to win. Well someone has to win don't they it might as well be us. LOL just fell off the chair.

Exmoorjane said...

Muddy: so glad it's not just me...we can elbow one another on the podium!

Maggie Christie said...

A good bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone. Now please excuse me while I just nip off to sharpen my elbows...

Roxann said...

Great post, Jane. Enjoyed your confessions ;) I'd never win at the usual things mom's excell in, either, but I think my kids are turning out alright in spite of me, lol.

Berridon Farm said...

yes who wants to come fourth? or worst, second?

Humdrum Mum said...

I have some competitive mummy friends, they're the worst - I'd rather one is just competitive about their OWN abilties not their child's! I remember being asked at uni by a friend (who got a lower degree than me) why I was so competitive with her. I replied that she was not the person I was competitive with, as I was always getting higher marks than her. I was in fact competitive with our other friend, K, because she got usually 1% either side of my mark! She got my drift. So I suppose I am competitive too...

Just noticed looking thru old posts that you are in Dulverton? My bro-in-law Chris Curtis used to be chef at one of the local pubs there, and was going with a girl named Juliet. Ring any bells?

Fire Byrd said...

I bet you were good at school sports as well. Whereas me, I was the person who they groaned at and said "it's your turn to have her in your team!"
So despite an ambition to be the most popluar blogger in the universe, I settle for quality not quantity, that's my excuse anywayfor not having 3million followers and 5 thousand kissy cooments when I as much as fart!

Shayne Parkinson said...

Confession: I'm not very competitive. I feel almost guilty admitting this; in a sports-mad country like New Zealand, it can be seen as a character weakness.

One of my earliest memories is running in a toddlers' race at a group picnic. For the first and last time in my life, I was in the lead - so I slowed down, and let the child behind me catch up. I can still hear family members calling out to me to run, and I still remember the half-laughing, half-exasperated questions afterwards. It was hard to explain, and still is, but I felt unhappy about that little boy trailing along behind me, because I thought he might be upset.

Don't get me wrong, I love success. When I was taking piano lessons (I'm a late starter there; this was only a few years ago), I got ridiculous pleasure out of every Trinity College exam I passed. And I now get ridiculous pleasure from every book sale, and even more so from every enthusiastic review. But my ranking doesn't matter to me, beyond its usefulness in making my work more visible.

Which is probably why, after spending months with a book in the 30s at Authonomy, it dropped 20 places in a week during the recent voting frenzy :-)

P.S. I suspect that if I had kids I'd be horribly competitive about them. So it's probably a good thing that I don't. :-)

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Do I recognise this! yes, yes, me too. Have actually got a little bit better as I have got older and lazier tho.

Fennie said...

As an extremely uncompetitive person it's nice to know how the other half lives. But life's too short to make too much of a rod for your own back. I suspect also that your books would rise to the top unaided apart from being given the gentlest of launches. A bit like cream really.

English Mum said...

Nope. I'm not very competitive at all. Although, for some reason if I see that I'm fourth, or worse, second in something, it always make me cry. I've just stopped looking - pathetic creature that I am. I loved your cupcakes, by the way xx

PS: Word verification: 'tranc' - is this a sign?

angelsurchinsblog said...

Heh heh, consider yourself voted for. I've been known to knock Monopoly pieces on the floor when someone else nabbed the Mayfair properties, so I know just how you feel.

Exmoorjane said...

PM - you're a runner - so competitive is part of your makeup!

Roxann: I think they do - if we leave them alone!

Berridon: LOVELY to hear from you.. Yeah, had you pegged as a #1!

Humdrum: oh god yes, competitive mothers are GHASTLY! Now then, that name rings bells but I have no memory cells left- shall ask DH.

Byrd: No way! I was crap at didn't compete! Was madly cross at not being picked as head girl though.. ;)

Shayne: love that toddler story - made me smile very broadly. Doesn't surprise me remotely. Autho is bonkers right now - no point being competitive there any more.

EM: can't imagine you ever doing anything badly!

Fennie: ah, I wish... Think they're turning into yoghurt right now.

EM: I know you did, honey... :)

angels: I get nervous, sweaty palms when playing Monopoly - hate it! Have been known to sulk, badly.

Calico Kate said...

Hi Jane, finally I have internet connection at home and as it is a rainy day I can quite legitimately spend HOURS catching up with my favorite blogs and people.
I so wish that there was an Annee up here she sounds quite wonderful. Hope that James is on the way to recovery and that, of course, you were first to get better!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Award for you over at mine!

Rob-bear said...

And Jesus called to Lazarus in the tomb: "Come fourth." And Lazarus came out.

So I guess fourth is OK.

Fran Hill said...

It's this picture of the bookshelves that made me decide to follow. So, so, easy to please ....