From the Competitive World to the Cooperative World

I spent the better part of my physical education teaching career fighting against the competitive nature of sports and fitness. In my classes, children learned cooperative games and activities which still had a competitive aspect but focused on teamwork. For example, partners might count how many times they could hit a ball back and forth, or how many passes they could complete in thirty seconds. Students learned small group games such as 2-player kickball, or 2-on-2 soccer. There was no “standing around” waiting for a turn in my gym. My philosophy was that if children learn by doing, then they need to be doing.

In class, I taught students games they could play at home or at recess to improve individual skills, but the concept did not resonate with many of them. My students rarely played the games I taught them outside of my class. It felt like a losing battle. The world teaches us to be competitive even in non-competitive tasks. Who can read the most books? How fast can you recite your times tables? Who is the best speller in your school? Don’t just play the trumpet, be first chair.

Now that I have begun a second career as a writer, I believe I have found my niche. Writers support writers! Last weekend I attended the Georgia Writers Museum Writers Retreat in Eatonton, Georgia and you could not find a more diverse group. Attendees and presenters came from all walks of life. In attendance were more women than men, more Baby Boomers than Gen Zers, more fiction novelists than non-fiction writers, and more accomplished writers than newbies. There were Democrats and Republicans, Christians, Jews, Catholics, and atheists, vaxed and unvaxed, yet every one of them was there to learn, encourage, help, and teach, for the weekend and beyond. Lou Benjamin, co-founder, and current president of the Georgia Writers Museum said he’s never encountered a more supportive group of people than writers.

On my way to the retreat, I received the book Boys in the Boat, by New York Times bestselling author, Daniel James Brown, from Bob at The Crazy Book Lady Bookstore, where the owner, Stacey, shows her support of local writers with a collection of area writer’s books displayed prominently for all patrons to see. It seems writers see themselves “in the same boat,” or to be punny, we might say they are “on the same page.” There is no finite number of successful writers. We know most of us will never achieve Nora Roberts, Stephen King, James Patterson, or J. K. Rowling’s status, but the success of my fellow writers does not mean I cannot succeed too. In the writer’s world, there is always room for one more book on the shelf. There is no “I win, you lose” mentality.

Once home, I emailed a few presenters, thanking them for their time and information. Every single one of them responded within hours with more encouragement and a promise to help me in any way they can. Writers make me proud to be one of them. If somehow, in the algorithms of the world wide web, I can repay them, I want to express my gratitude to the writers I had the privilege of learning from last weekend. Thank you to these writers who have embraced me in their cooperative world—a world where everyone can be a winner. Please check out their sites.

Keynote Speakers:
Joshilyn Jackson, www.joshilynjackson.com
 Love Hudson-Maggio, www.lovehudsonmaggio.com
Jennifer Moorman, www.jennifermoorman.com
Presenters:
Kristine Anderson, Crooked Truth, www.kristinefanderson.com
Beverly J. Armento, Seeing Eye Girl, A Memoir of Madness, Resilience, and Hope www.beverlyarmentoauthor.com
Chip R. Bell, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination plus 23 other books on creating innovative customer experiences www.chipbell.com 
Melinda Farris, first novel almost ready for publication, www.melindasfarris.com
Rona Simmons, A Gathering of Men and The Other Veterans of World War II, Stories from Behind the Front Lines www.ronasimmons.com
Samantha Sorelle, The Gentleman’s Gentleman and five other M/M historical romances www.samanthasorelle.com
Friends:
Millicent Flake, Moving Beyond: Journeying Through Life’s Changes www.underthemagnoliatree.com
Ann F. Beach, MD, ready for publication, Sick Kids: Solving Medical Mysteries in Children (50 true stories of pediatric patients who arrived at the hospital with one diagnosis, and went home with another) www.annfbeach.com
Editor: Mari Ann Stefanelli www.thewritershigh.com

What have you experienced in your line of work? Do you see more competition or cooperation? Please scroll down to comment.