(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
I’m going to ask a very personal question. Do you ever get jealous of other writers? Writers who are published and getting rich, and you’re not? Writers who suddenly decide it’s time to write a book, and then land a three-book publishing contract within a year of finishing their first book, when you’ve been collecting rejection slips for years?
I’m going to be honest here and say that sometimes I do. Jealousy is a human emotion but it’s not a good one to dwell on. It can fester and make us feel bitter and miserable. One of the ways to combat it is to quit comparing ourselves to other people. There will always be people out there we perceive to be doing better than us, in whatever way. There will also always be people out there who are worse off. People try to diminish the success of others by belittling it. It’s a hugely destructive thing to do, but it’s human, and that’s why the celebrity gossip magazines are so popular.
My yoga teacher runs monthly meditation circles, which I try to attend because I find them good for my state of mind. One of the exercises she gets us to do is to go around the circle and everyone has to state aloud something they are grateful for. We keep going on this until people run out of things to say. This exercise makes you focus inwards. Even if you’re in a really bad place, at the end of a terrible day, you will find things that you are thankful for.
Being jealous is one of those things we are reluctant to admit to – to admit to jealousy is to admit to being a Bad Person. I actually debated with myself long and hard about publishing this post at all. But in the end I took a chance that I’m not the only writer in the world who gets jealous, and, like the post I did recently about writer highs and lows, maybe it would help others to know they’re not the only ones who feel this way.
There are a lot things in my life I should be grateful for, and I need to remind myself of this occasionally. Sometimes I resent the day job because it gets in the way of writing tme. But if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be able to afford all the wonderful holidays I take. So what if there are people out there who are making more money from their writing than me? It doesn’t diminish my own achievements. Nor does it make me a bad writer if someone else is perceived to be a better one.
We all have our own path to follow. Sometimes we have to remember to keep watching it, instead of coveting someone else’s.
I want to finish this post with a song from the irrepressibly cheerful Dolly Parton, whose “Better Get to Livin'” offers a better lesson in overcoming jealousy than I can offer. I can’t embed the video, so you need to click on the link to see it.