One of the scariest things about writing is putting your self out there. Not only because of the rejection, the judgement, the thoughtless barbs thrown at your work you have bled for and sweated over, no, not only for that. The scariest part is that after all that hard work and effort, someone might steal your idea.
Nonsense, you say! Well I say - the HELL you say! It happens. All. The. Time. It happened to someone I respect and admire very much just last night and let me tell you, it is devastating. (For the record, mess with my friends? I am the bull..you will get the horns.) It's the fear we all harbor and sometimes it's so strong it keeps a wonderful story in our desk drawer instead of in the hands of the masses.
Everytime I send a query, I think "What if my writing sucks but my story is good and then the person who read it mentions the story to someone and that someone tells some super talented writer about this trainwreck query with a good premise and boom, there's my book with someone else's name in the author box. Now obviously, that won't happen. Agents, or at least the ones I query, I have researched and I find them to be fair and ethical. They would send something back that said "Loved the story, take a writing class!" if they liked it that much. It's a foolish worry, but it's like sending your kids to the first day of school. You know they will be fine. But secretly you worry they will like the teacher better than you. Oh, you don't think that?....nevermind then.
But when you're out there networking, building your brand and meeting like-minded crazies (Writers! I'm talking to you!) such as yourself, you run the risk of, for lack of a better word, theft. We all have a blog. The CP group I'm so very fortunate to be a part of vlogs. And then there's Twitter, Facebook, chats, writing rooms, forums, the list goes on!
And what do we all talk about? Our ideas.All out there. All the time.
I am so lucky to have found the wonderful group of writers I call my circle (because they are ready to circle the wagons to protect and defend me at a moment's notice). They are ready to take out obstacles in my path, enable me when I need to vent, build me up when I'm low, be excited for my success, kick my ass back into gear when I whine and mostly, (this is important, people!) TELL ME THE TRUTH.
I can trust them. They can trust me. We willingly send our hard work to each other without a thought. We can take 'that sucks' or 'that's amazing' from them because we know they have brilliant minds to come up with their own ideas. They are not trying to take what's ours or tear us down. They want us to improve. We don't need to take each others' thoughts because we are all strong enough to have our own.
But this is of course not always the case. They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery and maybe that's true, but it still sucks out loud! And it just seems so ridiculous in this business.
Being in competition is nothing new to me. In theater and dance, it can be hideous, downright cutthroat(not marbles on the stage bad..but pretty damn close) but here, in this wonderful land of writers, its different.
Everyone wants you to succeed. All of us could get published, have agents and write fifty best selling books and there would still be room for more.Who wants you to succeed? Agents, editors, publishers, CP's, your friends, your families, other authors and most importantly...the readers! No one wants you to fail! How great is that?!?
So to those few bad apples who do not value original thought (especially the one stealing ideas from my much-more-talented-and-brilliant-than-you friend *gives evil eye*) I will not allow you to spoil the bunch.
Although this part of the journey can be stressful and filled with long nights fueled solely by bourbon, wine and ice cream, it is such an exciting place to be. Have you ever been working towards something where every person in your orbit wants you to reach that goal with such epic flourish that one time across the country for a book tour seems just not enough? I thought not.
So I plan to flaunt my ideas and if someone tries to copy them, I'll simply remember them when I'm on Chelsea Lately talking about who is cast in the movie version. I'll remember to thank not only the people who believed in me, but also the ones who pushed me harder and further to show them how it's really done...with trust, effort, and teamwork. Now that I think of it, who wouldn't want to be a writer?