Dealing With Author Envy, by Jenn J McLeod
It’s not easy being green. By green I am, of course, referring to writer jealousy and…
I just heard a united scraping of chair legs as writers everywhere start exiting the building.
Because of that big white elephant in the room; the one that, in this case, is actually varying shades of green.
So what is it about this white/green elephant in the room thingy that sends writers scurrying rather than discussing; preferring to bury their head in their keyboard rather than look in the mirror and say: “Yes, that big white/green elephant thing is messing with my head. I have to do something.”
For convenience I’m going to call this ‘thing’ The Blob and I challenge any writer with a publishing dream to admit they’ve never battled this horrid creature of the subconscious.
I’m happy to stand up and say: “My name is Jenn and it’s been 575 days since I buried The Blob.”
I had let myself become a victim – crying, ranting, lashing out: “Why not me, oh publishing gods? My books are heaps better than book A, B, or C currently sitting on my bedside table.” (Read: smashed against the bedroom wall in frustration!)
Lucky for me I discovered what a total waste of energy The Blob could be – both in my personal and my professional life. Okay, so I am over-exaggerating a tad (I do that!) My Blob encounter wasn’t that debilitating, but I know some writers who have let it destroy their creativity, their dreams, and even their relationships/friendships. I can recognise it in others because I’ve been there. I know what it looks like. I also know how much energy it wastes.
Right about now, some of you will be tuning out. I mean, I got that publishing contract in the end. What have I got to be jealous about? Right? Besides that, if The Blob is of the subconscious, is this a problem? Is The Blob even horrid?
I’m not sure at what point an author actually stops feeling a little envious. There is always someone doing better than you and it’s often hard to not let their success get you down. For example:
- Someone is not necessarily doing better than you, but maybe they are doing it faster or easier (eg. they have an agent or they have an editor helping them while you slog it out on your own).
- Someone gets a massive advance after an international book fair bidding war.
- Someone is translated into several languages, on a bestseller list, or closer to making this gig an actual living.
- Someone gets the good covers, the publicist, the awards, the accolades, the 5-star reviews. (When did the poor old 4-star review stop being enough?)
I know when I was unpublished I told myself I didn’t want the world. Just one book sitting on a shelf somewhere; some sort of validation, at last, that I was indeed a writer of some worth. Never did I think The Blob would bother me once I had an agent and a publishing deal. But so-called success does not make you Blob resistant. You’re always behind someone more successful, or there’s always someone younger, more eloquent, more revered. Then there’s that author coming up behind who is so amazing they are sure to surpass you. Then how will you feel?
Get a handle on The Blob now.
Just so you know, I’m currently reading one of THOSE books. You now the one: the whimsical tale from the wonderful wordsmith whose brain comes with a built-in thesaurus. They contrive perfect plots with clever twists and can’t-get-enough-of characters. It’s your it-has-everything novel, the one you seriously can’t put down, the one that delivers lines that make you bash your head with the damn book and bleat: “Why, why, why can’t I think of lines like that?” (yes, Liane Moriaty – you crisp Tupperware container woman – I’m talking about you and The Husband’s Secret).
I’m pretty sure every writer battles The Blob at some point along the path. Perhaps we won’t all experience the same intensity, but the smallest of Blob can squish its way into the tiniest of cracks. If you’re reading this and still shaking your head in disagreement, then you can go now. See ya! If you’re relating to this post – even a little – I’m not going to tell you to get over it or ignore The Blob. Everyone deals with these feelings differently. From my experience, you’re much better off accepting its existence and that it’s not so horrid.
Let The Blob drive you. Let it inspire you. Learn from those you aspire to be like. The saying “Gracious in defeat” comes to mind (not that there’s any defeat). Be a gracious, generous, caring writer and karma will energise you and reward you. It just will.
Bringing author envy from the subconscious to the conscious mind can help you then deal with it and get on with what you really love – the writing.
Jenn J McLeod’s author website: www.jennjmcleod.com
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