A Little Competition

I have started wondering how I stack up, how I compare to the rest of world writing skills wise, that is.

Comparing is a tough thing to do. You know right off that you likely aren’t the best. If you were you probably wouldn’t feel the need to compare in the first place. In fact, I figure that’s likely true of the top ten percent of anything.

So that puts me under the ninetieth percentile right away.

But then, I have never been published, that is the whole point of this blog, chronicle my struggle to get published.  And there are A LOT of books out there, so if I face the fact anyone who is currently published automatically has me beat, well, that puts me down the ranks quite a bit further.

And I also know that my grammar and punctuation skills leave a lot to be desired. That’s gotta drop me below all of those unpublished English teachers.

But before I hit rock bottom, I realized that there are a lot of people in the world who don’t write fiction at all, and there are illiterate people, and still others who didn’t even graduate High School. I doubt that they’re writing the great American novel.

I would think that makes my fiction better than at least half the people in the world; the ones who haven’t written, the ones who can’t write, and those others who sign their name with an “X”.

Then I remember the idea that my friend Matt put to me one day:

“I think it’s a bad idea for parents to tell their kids that they are better than other kids.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if you start them thinking in terms of a hierarchy, then the kids will have to know, that while they are better than some of the kids, there will be other kids that are better than they are.”

And I always thought a little competition was a good thing.

When Matt and I had a contest to see who could write the most, as in total word quantity in a week,  I won with 14,580 words.  I don’t have a record of what final word count he had, but both accounts were way more words than either of us had previously put to paper in a week.

Yet it still didn’t seem like a lot of words.

I mean, I am sure I could do better if I pushed.  There were two days in there where I spent the evening with friends, and lots of time when I was just too lazy to write.  But it was a weird feeling, that nagging in the back of my mind that while I was on the couch watching TV, or out having a drink, Matt was likely gaining ground on me, pecking away at his laptop.

But before you think that I bested Matt, you need to know that he has ALREADY been published.  Yeah, the check-in-hand kind of published I am shooting for.  And that, my friends, is the real contest.

But then like a lot of things, it’s not really against the other kids, is it?  It’s really me against myself.

And those dammed gate-keeper editors…

James

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