I use to say that to be a success at writing a person had to -
A. Have some natural story telling ability.
B. Be a better than average writer.
C. Be persistent.
D. Have a good attitude.
It seems there's something I forgot. Apparently, a successful writer should also know how to play nice with others. Or so my agent informed me. Though not in so many words. According to Steve, my editor said that Harlequin wanted to offer me a contract for another continuity story because, "Shirlee knows how to play nice with others."
Now, perhaps you think that comment belongs more on a grade school report card then in a conversation about an author. Me? I was glad to know that my editor thinks so highly of my ability to work with a variety of people. The thing about a continuity is that each author writes a book, but each book is intricately connected to the other books in the series. Lack of communication, unwillingness to bend and change, hard-lined stances on one's own vision of the story don't work when authors are creating a six book project. What works is a willingness to listen, eagerness to tackle problems as a member of a team, and an ability to see the book you're creating as a group project rather than an individual acheivement. Doing those things is like playing nice on the playground - it creates friendships, champions, and an atmosphere of fun and accomplishment.
Even if you're not published and doubt you'll be offered the chance to write a continuity in the near future, this lesson is a good one to keep in mind. As much as good writing and great story telling can sell your book, a bad attitude and an inablity to accept that you're just one member of a very large team can ruin your career.
I suppose in some ways it's about being humble, about knowing that the books we create can only be their best with the help of others. After all, no one likes arrogance and everyone wants to be acknowledged for what they do. But mostly, it's about living lives that are testimonies to what we believe. It's about having the same gentle spirit as Christ. A spirit that accepts, that appreciates, that loves. It's about being the people He wants us to be.
And really, that's the only way to true success in anything!