What more could I want? Especially when I’m already blessed with so much?
Apparently that ugly jealousy monster inside me isn’t easy to appease. The monster wants more, especially when it looks around and sees what others have. It stares with its green eyes and whispers, “Look what she has. Don’t you wish you had that too?”
The fact is, everyone gets jealous. I know it’s easy to think unpublished writers are the only ones with the envious eyes. I remember the days of being jealous of writers with agents, book contracts, and readers. At that stage it’s hard not to look ahead at those who are already published and to wish you could trade places.
But strangely, the jealousy doesn’t end at publication, even when you’re in a position such as mine. I was reminded of this last week when I saw another writer announce some fantastic and exciting news. And as thrilled as I was for this writer friend, I was almost literally sick with the feeling of wishing I could have her level of success.
Yes, the jealousy monster creeps after us at every stage of publication.
Before publication we get jealous of these kinds of things:
*Writers who get an agent before us.
*Writers who can easily make friends with industry professionals.
*Writers who have more followers on social media.
*Writers who place higher in a contest.
*Those who seem more popular.
*Those who can write books faster than us.
After publication we get jealous of these kinds of things:
*Writers whose sales rankings are better than ours.
*Writers who consistently make the bestseller list.
*Writers with better book contracts than ours.
*Writers whose books final in contests when ours doesn’t.
*Writers who get more attention from their agent.
*Writers whose books are optioned for movies.
*Big seller authors who get special treatment from the publisher.
So, last week when I was sick with jealousy, I had to stop myself, take a deep breath, and remind myself of a few simple things:
1. Sometimes the internet is hazardous to our mental health. The truth is, because we’re online and involved in the writing community, we end up seeing what everyone is doing. We hear all the good news and very little of the bad.
Therefore, it’s easy to be bombarded by all of the “congrats” and “hurrahs” and start to wonder why we’re missing out. I find that sometimes I need to step back, turn off the internet for a while, and remember that what I see on twitter isn’t necessarily the whole picture.
2. Remember those authors who are achieving success have worked really, really hard to get where they’re at. I only have to stop and think about how many years I studied writing, how many books I've written, and how long I struggled before I reached my current position. While those achieving success might make it look like it happened overnight, it usually involved years of hard work.
3. Direct the frustration into getting even better at our writing. The great thing about the writing industry is that it’s wide open. Anyone who has the will to work at improving and the desire to succeed has a chance at making it. So whenever I see someone getting the kind of success that I’d like, I challenge myself to work all the harder.
4. Don’t blame agents and editors for their inability to coddle us. Whether before publication or after, the nature of the modern publishing industry is that agents and editors don’t have the time to hold the hands of all the authors clamoring for attention. They have to prioritize, and of course, they’re going to give their best time and energy toward the bread-and-butter authors, the brand names, the bigger authors.
Recently, I experienced a twinge of jealousy when I saw that my publisher had put together a big book tour for their most popular, best-selling author Beverly Lewis. Yes, I couldn't keep from wishing that someday I'd warrant that kind of attention. But I had to remind myself that Beverly Lewis has been writing for years and has worked hard to become a household name. If not for her financial success, my publisher wouldn’t be able to take as many risks on young authors like me.
So, now that I've admitted to feeling jealous of other authors, please tell me I'm not alone! What makes you jealous? And how do you handle it?