Celebrating Your Competition

Vocational success is not a zero-sum gain. Another’s accolades, accomplishments, and approval do not take away from yours. As I wrote yesterday, there’s enough work, enough success to go around. And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we celebrate each other?

The zero-sum game vocational mentality is present in every occupational field, and the writing world is no exception. I’d like to write well-regarded novels, great magazine articles, and sought after works of non-fiction. So often, though, these ego-driven career hopes fill us with a sort of envy for those who’ve achieved those very things. This is the envy that might short-circuit the celebration of our neighbors, the good work they’ve done.

Today, I’d like to step away from my own work. I’d like to share the works of a few writers (my chosen occupational field) who are using words well. I’d like to celebrate my vocational neighbors.

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Steve Wiens released his new book, Whole last week. His book offers a beautiful message, that we’ve been written into the story of God no less than any of the biblical characters. It’s a book of healing. It’s well done. I wish everyone I knew would read it.

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Shawn Smucker wrote a YA novel a few years back, a work that my sons adored. (Ian still claims it’s one of his favorite books.) His book, The Day The Angels Fell, has been picked up by Revell and releases this month. If you have young adults in your house, buy this book. If you don’t? Buy it anyway. I promise it’ll take you back to your childhood in all the best ways.

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Abby Perry wrote a fantastic piece for Fathom Magazine about parenting as narration. The tension is palpable:

My fingers are wrapped tightly around the steering wheel. The intersection is crowded and confused by construction; it is hot; it is lunchtime; a nearly-five-year-old is asking me about death from the backseat while his two-year-old brother looks at books.

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Ashley Abrasion wrote this article for the Washington Post, which was picked up by the Toronto Star. In “How my Mother’s Opioid Addiction Affects my Experience as a Parent,” Ashley writes:

My mother was the Newport 100 cigarettes she smoked and the empty cans of Pepsi she left lying around the house. She was her weekly trips to the emergency room — for what, exactly, I was too young to know — and her dramatic emotional outbursts, often aimed at me. She was forgotten parent-teacher conferences, her body’s constant weakness, the way she seemed to have it all together when my friends came over, only to lose her mind when we were alone. In my eyes, my mother was defined by her brokenness and her addiction. Those things always eclipsed her best intentions.

Each of these works comes from another writer or author in my field, folks some may say are my competition. And yet, their words are worth celebrating. Their successes are worth sharing. Sharing this success does not take away from my own.

How will you celebrate your vocational neighbor today? Can you think of a way to congratulate, promote, or praise a colleague (even a competitor) for the work they’re doing? Remember, the praise you give does not take away from the work you’re doing. In fact, it’s this sort of graciousness that might release you from your own envy, and by this, perhaps bring a little light to your daily occupation.

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  • shawnsmucker

    Thanks, Seth.