The jealous writer
Jealousy is tough. I don't know of any writers who don't feel varying degrees of twinges of it at one time or another but it is how we handle it and ourselves when confronted with it that matters, right?
Sometimes it's really hard to hear how people are selling and selling and selling, especially in a week (month? year?) when editors seem to be handing out nothing but impersonal standard rejections slips. I can read in Publisher's Lunch about my agent making a "good deal" for someone else and for a moment or two or three I feel tinged in green, at least until I remember I am not there yet, with there being that mystical place I call established. A friend I love and care about can land a deal with a top tier publisher or win a coveted award and I admit to cheering and whimpering at the same time.
Does this make me a bad person? No. It makes me normal. Now of course if you become so obsessed with being jealous that it affects your work, turns you into a midnight stalker or someone who posts annonymous negative reviews for the other person online, well that's a different story.
Joan Didion says, "To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self."
I don't know about you but I usually put the blame for whole dang thing on my shoulders. The other people are selling because they are writing more than I am, which means they are improving quicker and they are producing more and they are better at the discipline it takes and so on and so on. I always assume that the fault is mine. If I lived up to half of my potential, I'd be there too. So while I get twinges when I hear of things going well for other writers I know, it's usually followed by a big dose of guilt because I know I'm not working as hard as I could. I can't imagine sniping to someone about their success, but then I've listened to my fair share of sniping from others, so I shouldn't keep being so surprised at how cruel some people can be.
I never begrudge the hard workers their success. Publication is a hard earned reward. What I DO have a hard time with are the people who are sure that it must be connections that got you somewhere, or that they could do it too, if they only took the time. (Right, and I could be a brain surgeon in my spare time if I wanted to.) And in order to get the word our about work, we need to talk about it. If we don't flaunt our work, as in being our own best PR person, then no one will ever hear of us. Yet if flaunt it, we are snobs or ego maniacs or something. No wonder so many writers are bi-polar.
Marge Piercy has written a wonderful poem called For The Young Who Want to and I suggest you go read the entire poem which ends with: "Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved."
Write on right now.