I’m sure I’m late to the party, but has everyone read this:
If you haven’t, please go now and read it. Go. Seriously. I’ll wait.
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Done? Good. There is so much to say about this article. First of all, is there anyone who hasn’t felt like Awful Jealous Person a time or two? I have. Not so much over six-figure book deals, but there was a definite feeling of jealousy in the MFA program when any of my classmates got pubbed in a lit journal. One of my lowest moments came just after I completed my MFA when a blog acquaintance got a handsome book deal off her blog. I swear, at that point, I could have written Awful Jealous Person’s letter word-for-word. (Minus the prestigious universities stuff. State schools all the way, baby.) It was a dark place for me. I had a blog! I had an MFA! Why wasn’t I the chosen one?
We are all savages inside. Sigh…
I like what Sugar says about going deeper and looking at what truly bothers you about other people’s good news. My therapist was a big fan of this kind of exploration, especially when it came to anxiety or other icky feelings. What’s really going on? she liked to ask when I freaked my freak over having my first paid article due and experiencing insurmountable writer’s block.
For me, for a long time, I used to get the bitter taste of jealousy at any mention of writing. Whether a friend had just completed NaNoWriMo, or were editing a chapter they loved, or they carved out 15 minutes to draft a scene. Any of those would make me a little jealous.
You don’t have to look to deep to see what’s really going on there. I was jealous of my friends who were writing because I was not. I was jealous of classmates because they were subbing stories right and left while I sent out maybe 20 over the course of a year. In short, I wasn’t working hard enough and was jealous of people who were. This has often been the culprit behind my own jealous feelings. The bitter taste I get when I read about someone getting an offer of representation can be traced right back to the fact that I want to get my own query letter written and start subbing to agents. And it’s not just writing related. For a while it was a little hard for me to read weight loss success stories and even seeing my friends’ Facebook updates about going to the gym made me a little grumpy.
This all turns out to be very good news, actually. If my jealousy stems from watching someone do something I want to be doing, then I can go do it. Easier said than done, usually, but it works. When I’m carving out time to sit and write and working hard on my novel or query, I’m not grumpy when someone tweets about the awesome revision they just finished.
I’m kind of glad that Sugar pointed out Awful Jealous Person’s entitlement issues, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with believing you deserve something as long as you’re putting the sweat behind getting it. And I’m not saying that just because this is the root of my jealous feelings, it’s the root of everyone’s jealous feelings. I’m just saying, at least go look for the roots.