Ever notice how the green-eyed monster looks a little like a zombie?
If you're a writer and if you even have one writer as a friend, I'm certain, at one time or another, your eyes have turned green. (The first step to recovery is admitting it, so just nod and say yes).
And I'm not talking the pretty kind of green either. I'm talking the algae, swamp colored, snotty nose kind of green--nasty.
As human beings, envy and jealousy is part of our nature. Just like sadness and happiness. We are full of emotions. Just some aren't as nice as others and some can down-right cripple us. Envy and jealousy aren't good emotions unless it spurs us forward to do better, write better, and become better. But how often does that happen? Umm . . . how about never.
For the most part, envy and jealousy tightens our heart, pulls us inward, and we become bitter and depressed: Look how good he's doing. He's sold a kazillion books. People love him. He has an agent and a publishing contract. He's a best seller. Oprah is coming out of retirement to talk about his book! Dang it! He's getting everything I ever wanted . . . there's nothing left for me. I HATE him. I'm going to leave a bad review on his book. Yeah, that will show him. Take that, you dream-snatching jerk! You want me to retweet you last review? Ha,ha, ha--NO. But I will spread a rumor.
Anytime we see someone achieving more and receiving more, out pop the green eyes. It's not just writers; it's everyone. (I live just below some mega huge houses. Houses that average 5,000 square feet or more. Houses with swimming pools and indoor full-size racquetball/basketball courts. Yes, my eyes became green. So no, it's not just writers). But I do think that as writers it may be more prevalent because this is OUR dream. We've wanted this since we were little kids. To see someone else achieve the dream we've been so diligently struggling to achieve breaks our hearts just a little.
Think about it. We are in a day and age in which we can check each others blog followers, twitter followers, amazon reviews and book rankings. It's easy to become jealous (and obsessed).
So what do we do? How do we overcome and slay the green-eyed monster?
The first thing I suggest is wishing other writers well. Congratulate them. Yep, it will be hard. But not only will it help suppress the green-eyed monster, but you will feel better about the way you handled the situation. Use their success stories to spur you into creating a success story for yourself (it will be hard, but it can be done). Think about karma for a minute. If you believe, at all, that what goes around comes around, why then would you want to tear down another writer's achievements?
The second thing we need to remember is that the only person we are hurting by being envious and jealous and petty is ourselves. Will the other person even know? Will it affect their future success even if they did? Nope. No matter how jealous you get or how angry you are, it won't change a thing. They will keep doing what their doing. So what's the point? There isn't one.
A third thing we need to remember is that this isn't a competition against other writers. It isn't. I can't look at it that way, because if I did, I would crawl up in a little ball and never write again. Because here is the cold hard facts: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE BETTER THAN YOU. That fact will never change. Even when you think you are the biggest fish in the pond, some bigger fish will swim by and swallow you whole. For me, the only person I will compete against is myself. What can I do better? How can I make my mark in the world? What will work for me?
Oh, it's going to be hard! The green-eyed monster doesn't like being controlled. But the best thing we can do is applaud other writers efforts, spread the love and joy, and when the time comes, hopefully that love and joy will be reciprocated.
Because no matter where you are on the ladder of writing success, there is someone on a rung higher than you--BUT there is always someone on a rung lower. So reach down and lift them up and keep climbing. Who knows? Maybe because of your kindness, someone ahead of you might reach down and offer their hand to you :)
How do you beat the green-eyed monster into submission? What works for you? What advice have I missed? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.