Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Struggling To Be...

...happy for those who have "made it" in this biz.

Yeah, I said it. I have the Jealous Thing going on. And the thing is, it's so lame. I mean, it's people I don't even know. People I do know I'm happy for. So why do I care that Totally Unreachable Author is having great success by hitting the NYT bestseller list?

Maybe because I'm not? Because I'm a bad person? Because jealousy is a natural emotion we have to learn to deal with?

Am I the only one who deals with this? It's okay if I am. Really.

I strive to help people on the Interwebs. I'm a regular on the QT forum, I write for the QT blog, I feel like I have a good grip on what this business is. I know it comes with rejections and roller coaster highs and lows. Every once in a while, that Jealous Thing comes up. It consumes me. Pulls me down into the depths of fire and brimstone. Fills my heads with No Good Thoughts.

Like "You're not good enough."

Or "You should just give up."

I don't necessarily compare myself to others, but instead, beat myself up on how made of suck I am. Do any of you do this?

And it's always worse when I read / hear of someone else's success. Again, it's lame. Because I don't get like this when my online pals have good things happen to them. It's always with people I DON'T know.

How do you beat this Jealous Thing? Is the nasty JT and NGT's just one more thing I have to learn to deal with as an author? Like, "you've got to be able to handle rejections, waiting and the Jealous Thing whispering No Good Thoughts in your ear."



Anonymous said...

IDK, I think jealously s a normal emotion and definitely goes with the territory. I mean, when we work as hard as we do on writing, revising, querying and every thing else, it is natural to feel Jealous and "NGT" from time to time. At least, I know it happens to me - more often than I like to admit.

Great post - as always.

Stina said...

I don't get jealous. But I do get overly excited when one of my friends lands a request or The Call (unfortunately that amounted to nothing in book land).

One of my friends just landed a full request from the assistant of our dream agent who had her partial. The agent also has my partial. Thing is, I love my friend's book so much (and want to read the sequel) that I don't care if our dream agent doesn't want to rep me . . . as long as she reps my friend. I love the book that much.

Even if I do feel a twinge of jealousy, I use it to make my ms better. It's the best form of motivation there is (when used appropriately).

Angela Ackerman said...

I think this is a normal part of the process. One thing tho that seems very consistent is how quickly things change. One day we feel like we suck, we're total posers, we should do something more attuned to our talent pool like remove dead bugs from light fixtures and then next, agent representation, publication deals, book tours, interviews as an author, not a writer--the sky is the limit.

And your work isn't even close to sucking. That first chapter I critiqued on that contest you won was something special. So hugs, and remember this comment when it gets published, cause it will.

:-) Angela

Unknown said...

I completely get what you are saying Elana. I'm kinda in the same boat right now. Watching other friends get MS requests or "The Call" and all I can think is, "What am I doing wrong?" and "What more can I be doing to get where they are?"

I'm in a very unhappy spot right now trying to figure out what needs to change with my MS. It's hard when everyone that has read it loves it, but no agent wants to pick it up. Do I have the wrong people reading it? What is going on here! I totally get where you are coming from. It's very hard NOT to get jealous when it's not us.

And Stina I salute you for your positive attitude towards your friends book. That is awesome! I do not yet have any close writer friends, but I have a feeling I'd be the same way for someone who was a close/personal friend.

Eric said...

I get jealous of all of you who seem to be able to crank out WIPs with so little effort. Sure they may not be ready for primetime yet, but you're working through the entire thing, finishing a draft, and feeling good about it at the end. I don't feel jealous about those who get published however, even if I don't know them. Maybe when I feel more confident about my own writing, I'll feel that way. At this point I'm too often painfully aware of how much I need to improve and learn. Don't worry Elana; I have read some of your stuff and it's very worthy. You'll get there when the time is right.

Casey Something said...

I actually find it exceedingly encouraging. I live for the good news of others.

Every single one makes me feel like getting an agent and publication is actually, eventually attainable. How would you feel if all you ever heard was crickets? I think I'd feel much worse.

I do beat myself up about my ability. And I think being jealous is pretty normal, but if you can, try to turn it on its head and view the positives.

XiXi said...

I'm jealous of people who don't get jealous. :-)

The main thing is I question what I'm doing when I see other people's success. But on the flip side, it's encouraging to see another's success too. That means it can happen for you too. One day.

No worries, that little green monster lives inside most of us. No way to beat it. I just try to keep a positive attitude at all times. Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett O'Hara always says. Tomorrow is the day you might get "The Call."

And from the little I've read of your stuff, I think you're fabulous. You are good enough!

Angie said...

I so hear you! I struggle with this all the time. It's nasty. Hang in there.

Unknown said...

Stina and Casey are clearly better peoplethan me! :) I DROWN in jealousy!! Nothing sets me off quicker into a pity party than seeing other's success. I really have to watch myself so I don't become a bitter old woman who sits on her porch with a shotgun and a dog.

Unknown said...

I keep it at bay with a secondary dream. Call it a "plan B"
I will keep writing these damn novels until my body is cold in the ground. I will bind them and put them on shelves. And after I am long buried, my children or my children's children find them, read them, get to explore me in a different way... and then one of them is an agent and/or publisher and publishes them, and I am famous! If only posthumously...

Anywho.... the secondary dream keeps the jealousy at bay.

Tere Kirkland said...

I definitely get jealous, especially of people I don't know, just like you, Elana.

But I overcome that jealousy by wishing others well, and meaning it.

It's hard to do sometimes, but it makes me a better person. Even if it doesn't make me a better writer.

Scott said...

Elana - it's just human nature. I'll send my friend Tyrone over with a margarita . . . that should be the only green, besides money, in your life. : ) Seriously, I'm right there with you. I guess it's that whole competition thing. I normally only have brief moments of jealousy. At those times, I get in touch with my two best friends in the Universe and they normally ground me with their presence and I realize I'm being a bit silly.

Marybeth - here are some very harsh words from me: maybe it's not your MS, but your query letter. Trust me, I've learned that even if an agent requests 5 - 10 pages with a query, if they don't like your query, many aren't going to read your pages. So, my words of inspiration - you just haven't found the right agent for you yet. Yeah, it's frustrating. Trust me, I'm right there with you on that one. I also believe that things happen for a reason and happen when they're supposed to happen.

With that said, now to Elana, Marybeth, and everyone else struggling - keep writing and keep believing in yourself.

Now, I'm off to Ben and Jerry's to drown myself in chocolate therapy!


Elana Johnson said...

Thanks for helping me feel like it's a normal process. I genuinely am happy for those people I know who have good things happen to them.

It's the people I don't know. This is perplexing to me, but there it is. Why do I care? I ask myself. It's strange.

I like the positivity that comes from thinking "Hey, someone made it in this business. There's hope!" so thanks for that!

And really, I'm not just hunkering around, jealous and mad. Just every now and then the JT comes and I wondered if I was the only one he visits. :)

lisa and laura said...

OMG, get out of my head! I'm practically a living, breathing, green monster these days. I can barely even read the "road to publication" stories without turning 10 shades of green.

Sigh. Let's just hope someday we'll be on the jealousy inducing side of things...

Danyelle L. said...


I think, being human, we all feel this way at some point.

Don't listen to those voices! The voices in your head that are your characters--those are the ones you should listen to. Ignore your inner naysayer. You are good enough, and if I never get to read any of those wonderful stories you've been whetting my appetite with, there will be Consequences!

Elana Johnson said...

Lisa and Laura - so sorry about the monster visiting you too! You're awesome. I'm living through you, you know.

Danyelle, I love how you capped Consequences. I don't know if that was on purpose, but I love it. You must know that I cap everything in like, every novel. Yeah, I'm one of those.

Corey Schwartz said...

You are NOT the only one Elana. I think people who experience no jealousy are the exceptions.

Rachael said...

You are definitely not the only one to experience jealousy like that. I'm jealous of the people that get requests while I just had a constant stream of rejections. Especially when it seems like they did it without even trying (though, I know they try very hard and I'm very happy for them. :D)

"I don't necessarily compare myself to others, but instead, beat myself up on how made of suck I am. Do any of you do this?"

Yes. I was doing that yesterday. Beating yourself up isn't going to get you anywhere. So just put it all aside and WORK. Because nothing happens without work. If you can't work, put it aside for a while and do something fun.

Danyelle L. said...


Oh, yes. It was deliberate. o:) I'm one of Those People too. The fun this is that that's how certain languages have evolved in my world.

Capping so much funner and more refined than CAP-CAPPING, don't you think? It captures the essence of The Look without all the shouting. :o)

Elana Johnson said...

Horserider, yes WORK does seem to be the answer for this. The JT, that is. When I try to work with the NGT's around...yeah, that's a nightmare.

Danyelle! Woot! I love The Look without the shouting. *happy sigh*

Unknown said...

Hey, Elana.

Oh yeah..the green monster—totally normal. I mean, I have to discuss book covers with my wonderful critmates (and I am happy for them, believe me, but I do feel a bit of a bridesmaid, never a bride, after coming close and then taking about a thousand steps back.)

But if jealousy spurs you to action, then it's fine. It's the kind that debilitates, that kills the muse you want to avoid.

Keep writing at all costs!

(and email if ever you need a read, though it does seem that sometimes people feel worse after one of my crits which is not my intention! :()

Hardygirl said...

Whew--I think people who say they don't experience a little green are lying. It's hard to keep the beast from creeping in, but it's so necessary. Jealousy is just about the most toxic thing for an artist to deal with because it feeds those "I'm not good enough" inner voices.


Jessica Verday said...

I <3 You. :)

*whispers* And I feel you...we can be green together. Email me, I have a GREAT story for you!

P.S. I know you won't believe this, but I am a leeetle bit jealous of you too!

Ryan S. Kinsgrove said...

I know how you feel with this. I was in the local Walden a couple weeks ago, and I ran across Sanjay something or others book (the guy from American Idol with the weird hair and bad singing). My wife had to drag me out of the bookstore before I made a very unpleasant scene.

P.S. No offense to anybody who likes him, but I can't stand him, and I couldn't stand to see him in print.

J. Lea Lopez said...

i hear ya chica! me and nicholas sparks have that kind of relationship. if you can call one-sided, near-seething hatred a "relationship" haha. (it's not that bad, but it's close sometimes.)

i get the Jealous Thing with people i know sometimes too. there's the sort of happy JT, where it's like man, that's so cool for you, hope i make it there some day which is usually with people i know pretty well and think deserve the success. then there's the nasty little JT that's like how did you land an agent/editor/contract with that crap???. that's usually reserved for people i've only briefly encountered who i'm pretty sure i'm more talented than...

ooh... maybe i should get going before the Jealous Thing turns into the Big-headed Thing haha. no worries Elana, I'm confident you'll get your well-deserved success soon enough.

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