Jealousy. I’ve never met a single person who hasn’t experienced it in some form or fashion. Even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves we have ALL been jealous at one point in our lives. Sugar/Ginger here to talk about professional jealousy and how it affects us all as writers.
I belong to a couple of loops that are for published writers. Most of the time we talk about contracts, covers and deadlines. Sometimes we go there to vent to people who understand us, to seek advice. But most of the time we go there for support. There’s a code on these loops. WHAT HAPPENS ON THE LOOP STAYS ON THE LOOP.
But recently I read a few messages that stuck with me. And they were all about professional jealousy. There’s a writer who has only been in the game for six or seven years who has had much success with her books. Not only is this person a damn good writer, but has been so kind and generous with her advice and support. She reported that she was being iced out by a group of writer friends that she has had for a long time. One of them saying to her that she got lucky that she hit the NYT and was nominated for a major award. And she hadn’t paid enough dues, gone through enough hardships to be where she is now. That she should enjoy the ride because it might end soon.
I’m a sassy girl so I might have told her to shove it where the sun don’t shine, but this writer, this hugely successful writer was really bothered by this. She was hurt by it.
I see this a lot. Maybe most people aren’t as bold as that lady. But a lot of times we aren’t always as happy for others success as we should be. Especially in writers group where some are getting contracted and others are constantly looked over.
We call it luck, or make excuses or diminish their achievements. We’ve claimed that they changed. That they exclude themselves. That they are divas. But are they really? Maybe some of them are, but I think most find a kind of isolation when they’ve gained success.
I’m a debut author who is just finding an audience and am grateful, infinitely grateful when somebody-anybody buys my book. But from personal experience I know that people do treat you differently when you’ve been published.Some act like you’ve got a magic secret and automatically know more than mere unpublished mortals. Or they become a little distant. And you can almost read their minds. “I write just a good as she does. Why aren’t I published yet?” People who aren’t writers assume that just because you have a book in a bookstore that you are making loads of money.
I wish I could say that getting that contract doesn’t change you. It does. Three years ago writing was just something I did. Now it’s become part of who I am. I’m a writer. I get paid to be a writer. But I’m still a teacher too. I’m a teacher first five days of the week. And I’m still a daughter, a sister, and a friend too. My point is that nobody can be inside of anybody else’s career and no one can know each of our individual hardships. Yes, there is luck involved for some of us, but a lot of the time it’s our hard work that got us to where we are.
So next time you think a negative thought about someone’s success imagine how you would feel if you were where they are.
PS. Jealousy isn’t always a bad thing. In my case seeing a friend get offered multiple contracts made me put my ass in the chair and work to become a better writer.
So what do you think? Ever find yourself being all green with envy?