Would That I Could But I Can’t

"I notice that you are eating something... I would like it."

“I notice that you are eating something…
I would like it.”

Jealousy is not a green-eyed monster. Jealousy is a nightmare with cold fingers and the sweetest, most lilting voice you’ve ever heard. Jealousy is a savory, syrupy dish you eat without silverware and it never fills you.

Jealousy is inevitable.

And that’s not always a bad thing.

When I became serious about writing, the Internet made comparing myself to everyone else dangerously easy. I would spend hours poring over another writer’s work, comparing his/her sales/deals/friends/Twitter followers/likes/retweets/etc…to mine. During darker periods (first, when I was in the querying trenches and second, when I was slouching through the submission process), jealousy was all I knew. Months passed before I fully realized that I could use this angst and envy and DO something with it. I wasn’t helping myself by moaning and comparing. I could help myself by reading MORE, writing MORE and pushing myself harder.

Jealousy became futile. No amount of lusting after someone else’s career will magically give you that person’s career. You have to keep working at it. The more you did, the more you suddenly stopped caring about how that other person/those other people were doing. Their successes and failures were not yours.

Don’t let jealousy make you complacent with your own work. Keep your head down. Keep going. Be supportive. Make friends. Even though writing seems solitary, having a community behind you to pick you up when your ego is scuffed up and bruised can help you move past your own hang-ups.

I still get jealous of other people’s writing accomplishments. But now it’s with less bitterness. I still feel: “Wow. I wish I had that.”

But after, instead of thinking of all the ways why I *should* have that and railing against the foibles of fate, I try to think —

“It’s out of my hands. But if I work hard and keep honing my craft, maybe I’ll get there too someday.”

Don’t let what makes you envious become your waking nightmare. Make it a dream.



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