Write On Right Now!: The jealous writer- Writing Prompts & Exercises to Get You Writing Now!

Write On Right Now!

Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to write. And that would be me. I've moved my journal about my writing life over to LiveJournal http://susanwrites.livejournal.com This blog will be filled with writing prompts and exercises so we can all write on right now! Please feel free to share your favorites.

Friday, July 22, 2005

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.


At Saturday, July 23, 2005, Blogger Janni said...

Thank you for the link to that poem! Some good reminders, there.

At Saturday, July 23, 2005, Blogger Peacebound said...

>> (Right, and I could be a brain surgeon in my spare time if I wanted to.) <<

I love this :o)

Was it James Cross Giblin who pointed out that a pediatrician is no less a doctor than a practitioner whose patients are adults? I think he put it much more cleverly, and I used to know the quote... but, such is my memory these days.

Your blog is a breath of fresh air, Susan.

And, hey... it's all perspective, as you know. To me, you are established! :o)

At Saturday, July 23, 2005, Blogger Don Tate II said...

Susan, you just hit the nail on the head, touching on a subject I've been considering myself. I often find myself getting bitten with the jealous bug. Why'd he win that big award, and I can't seem to get noticed by reviewers. In "Jump At The Sun" in which you and I share a byline, a reviewer described some of the other illustrators as "established award winners" while referring to me as "lesser known". Well, I am lesser known, but it sure ain't because I'm not trying.

I think that is one of the reasons my blog writings can go so...lets say...offensive. Theres this underlying anger, or disappointment or jealousy that things arent quite going how I had hoped, or I'm not where I wanted to be. So I tend to display this "I'm gonna say what I want because this ain't going nowhere anyway" *sob* Ok, enough sobbing.

But on the same note, I truly feel great when I hear about the successes of other people, like when you announced your book deals and stuff.

At Saturday, July 23, 2005, Blogger Don Tate II said...

Ah, Susan, embarrassed. My comment posted when I meant to edit out the undesirable "stuff". Oh well. Its there now.

I think other peoples successes tend to make one look at their own weaknesses, and could therefore be used as a means for personal growth.

At Saturday, July 23, 2005, Blogger Susan Taylor Brown said...

Thanks Janni!

Haemi, don't you know that now I am going to have go search out Jim's quote. :-) I've been discussing what "established" means with some other writer friends and it's interesting because it means different things to each of us.

Don, I hear you on so many levels. When I go into my down mode I can come up with so many reasons to feel bad. But you know (as well as I do) that we only have control over one thing, the product we put out. I can bemoan the years and years I spent moving slowly, writing slowly, doing freebie and work-for-hire stuff, doing foreign market stuff, not learning how to network, and being afraid to write in my real voice. I can feel sorry for myself because I never had a mentor and because my day job interferes with my writing job but none of that matters as much as the writing I do. Some people win the lottery. Some people have parents who give them cars or buy them houses. Some people seemed to have the Midas touch. But I'm just plain old ordinary me and it is those qualities that make me ME that give me the stories that are only mine to tell. Just as there are stories only YOU can tell. Sure, I get hit with the "why not me?" feeling sometimes but then I try to take that energy and put it into my work. When that doesn't work I eat chocolate. :-)

At Sunday, July 24, 2005, Blogger princessdominique said...

I had to respond. Yes, I agree, Publishers Lunch is chock full of deals, great deals, good deals and impressive or whatever the categories are. That's my goal this year, blog to exercise my creative thought and then write write write!


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