Jealousy

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on…”
(Shakespeare, of course)

Jealousy is a terrible thing to feel.
In its worst state it completely engulfs your thoughts and messes with your life.
I admit to a twinge here and there.
Thrilling, exciting news seems to announced every day. Subsidiary rights, foreign book covers and translations, movie options, series deals.
And I am thrilled and excited for all of these authors and think it is hard-won and well-deserved.
But there is a little voice that whispers, “why not me?”
And then here is the sensible adult voice that pipes up, “they are living their lives and you are living yours. Celebrate your successes.”
So I do. And I am very grateful.
But still the twinge.
I envy other writers their way with words, with character, dialog, plot. Immersing myself in a story well-told has been the joy of my life since I was old enough to read street signs.
Most of my favorite authors (Georgette Heyer, J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Jonathan Stroud, William Nicholson, Michelle Paver, Nancy Farmer to name but a few) have these strengths, and they are the reason I love their books so.
But this kind of fangirl envy is OK with my inner demon because it doesn’t mean that I don’t think I’m quite good with dialog, that my imagination is boundless, that I can write a good fight scene. I can aspire to maybe, hopefully, someday be as good as they are. This is productive jealousy because it means I will always keep working to be better at what I do.
It’s the other that is disturbing.
Are you jealous of others? Or are you more evolved than me?
Does it spur you even more to reach for excellence? Or do you enjoy a good wallow with a box of chocolates?

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5 Responses to Jealousy

  1. You said it – productive jealousy is excellent. There’s nothing wrong with it – I need SOMETHING to get me out of bed in the morning… Maybe the word isn’t jealousy, though, so much as aspiration? And a little sting to spur me on and get the best out of myself – that isn’t bad.

  2. Jo says:

    ahh the twinge!

  3. Jay Eckert says:

    Oh, Jo, Jo, Jo. More evolved than you? The New York Times Bestseller list is simply littered with writers who aren’t a tiny bit jealous of the success of other authors.

    And then there’s the rest of us.

  4. Jo says:

    Thanks for commenting Jay. Yeah I guess everyone is jealous of someone. It’s what we do with it or how we handle it that matters. Crippling jealousy would not be a good thing, but that which drives us to work harder, could definitely be. I’m not so thrilled about a persistent envy that would distract me from the things that really matter in this world. Family, friends…

  5. Jay Eckert says:

    Completely agreed. Envy is for life’s crankier moments. But that’s all they ought to be – moments.