I admit it, I've been completely addicted to Food Network lately. (You'd think it'd do damage to my waistline, but I've found when you see all this extravagant, wonderful food that's far better than anything you can get your hands on in real life, you don't actually eat that much.)
In particular, I've watched a lot of the competition shows they have: Cupcake Wars, Iron Chef America, Chopped, Sweet Genius, etc. And I've learned a couple of keys about being classy while competing against your peers.
#1 Don't Compare Really, I already knew this, but I've seen just how ugly it is when it doesn't happen on these shows.
The classiest competitors talk about what they were going for, how they went about it, what inspired them, and so on. They don't even mention what their fellow contestants did. The focus is on what they did, and is it good enough?
Inevitably, someone comes along who makes some remark (either blatant or backhanded) about another chef's dish or execution or style, or how their own is better. Every time, I want to mute the TV. It makes me cringe and grit my teeth.
This applies easily to the writing world. It's harder when I'm in the fight, rather than watching from the other side of the television, but it's still important. The important thing is my writing. How I pull it off, whether it's good enough ... not whether it's better than Writers X, Y, and Z. And if I must have such thoughts, I should keep them to myself. Or at least vent them in absolute privacy.
#2 Don't Talk Back to the Pros Oh, when contestants (on ANY reality show) talk back to the judges, I want to scream at them and run away, all at the same time. You don't have to agree with them. You don't even have to take their advice if you don't want to. But you should respect that there's a reason they're sitting in judgment and you're not. They have expertise, and have earned the right to be publicly opinionated.
Again, obviously applicable to writing. How often have we seen people bashing agents, editors, and publishers? Posting comments to their blogs about how they're outdated dinosaurs and no one needs them anymore? Or those horror stories about writers who send scathing replies to form rejections of their queries?
Yeah, publishing's changing, but really? That's no excuse for dissing people who DO know a thing or two about the industry. Have some respect, and behave professionally. It'll make YOU look better, and who doesn't want that?
So, thank you, Food Network, for reminding me not to be a full-of-myself jerk as I attempt to navigate the world of getting published. I'm sure everyone who has to interact with me thanks you, too.