All this week I have been paying (a little too close) attention to the whole #cockygate business. If you are not an author, particularly of romance, you might not have heard about the situation. A contemporary romance author has trademarked the word cocky and sent out cease and desist letters to other authors who have used that word in their titles. It is a bit more complicated than that, but I will let you peruse the various articles and blog posts that have been written this week that cover the scheme better that I could. The purpose of my post is not to rehash the drama nor give more attention to that author, and, yes, I do believe attention was the whole point behind her efforts.
While this author is an extreme example (google narcissistic personality disorder), I believe all of us who are pursuing a writing career are susceptible to these same pitfalls. We pay too much attention to what others are doing and we let it negatively affect our own efforts. We get angry, nervous, and downright afraid when we see others doing something similar to what we are working on or have already put out into the world. Our egos can get so out of control that we cannot acknowledge someone else’s success. The list goes on and on because, as creatives, we are all a bit neurotic. It just comes with the territory.
What do we do when we start to slip over the line? What we are supposed to do—write. When the work is the focus, all this other stuff fades from your vision, and becomes less and less important. I realized that over the last two days. I have made progress on my “just for fun” piece and while doing so, I have given very little thought to the negative feelings (mostly about other authors and the publishing world in general) that plagued me over the last weeks when I wasn’t working as much. The words are the important part. All the other stuff just keeps the words from forming in our minds and on the page. And that, my friends, is giving the negativity a victory it does not deserve.
That’s the lesson I took away from #cockygate. Again, this person took it to crazy levels, but we can all learn from her actions. Nothing good comes from putting your fears, frustrations, and ego before the work. In the end the words are what matter most.