Thursday, January 29, 2009

Green-eyed monster

My mom always used to say that her grandmother's besetting sin was jealousy. And I used to think how lucky I was that I wasn't jealous of my girlfriends' clothes or their boyfriends or their cool houses or their opportunities to travel. No! Not at all! I wasn't the jealous type.

And then I became a writer.

The truth is I often struggle with feelings of envy. Why can't I construct a plot as easily as this writer? Why don't my books win awards like that writer? The list of tortured questions goes on and on. I don't WANT to feel jealous. But there it is. I do sometimes, especially when things aren't going well for me.

What to do? I remember something Shannon Hale once said in a workshop. Her grandmother always used to say that hanging onto jealousy and resentment is like drinking poison and expecting it to hurt the other guy. True that. And here's something else. Listen to your best self. When somebody gets something you wanted, be the first to send flowers and notes of congratulation. I learned this from two veteran writers when I first started out--Ivy Ruckman and Barbara Williams. They were graciousness itself at all times, and I cherish their examples as much as I cherish their books.

11 comments:

Sara Z. said...

I just sort of blogged about this, too (in relation to self-doubt) at the Teen Fiction Cafe:
http://teenfictioncafe.blogspot.com/2009/01/self-doubt-see-doubt-of-self.html

Kerry said...

plus up close pretty much everyone is all screwed up. maybe even jealous of *you.*

ann cannon said...

Sara, I just read your piece. So good!! Must reading. And, yeah, Kerry, you're so right. We always compare from a distance--not the best perspective.

shelley said...

Jealousy is admitting the unfairness in the world. (Why is Stephenie Myer so popular? She's a terrible writer!)

Unfair.

It's not 100% a personal 'flaw,' but being angry at unfairness of such a subjective, unpredictable field.

Lisa B. said...

This is very true, about the jealousy. Still, it's hard to fend it off when it grabs you by the throat. About all I can manage is to not hang on to it. Much.

Mel said...

Kerry's right. I for one am jealous of you!

Mel said...

But in a good way!

Louise Plummer said...

Just when I think I'm above the problem, it comes back and bites me in the butt.

Sara Z., I'm going to quote your blog.

Pink Ink said...

Somebody once told me, "someone's always going to be better than you." I think at that time, the jealousy did not ease up thanks to that quote :-)

But, it makes me realize that the only person that I should really be competing against, that I should be better than, is myself.

wenderful said...

Ann,
I LOVED reading your column in the DS when we lived in Draper. We've since moved to a little town in Idaho and I miss your humor. I've been asked to start a column in our tiny monthly paper here. Do you have any tips?

Jayne said...

I love Bea Williams, she was my neighbor in Holladay for 12 years and she and JD were very good to my boys. She walked every morning, might still. I hope my neighbors would tell if she died, but I haven't talked to her since JD did. Lovely person.
Acheriz! Bless you.