Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Professional Envy (or 10 Things I Hate About You)

Tip of the Day: Never doubt the authenticity of DILBERT. Ever.

I am envious of YA author Sarah Dessen. I admit it. Her book THAT SUMMER totally rocked my reading and writing world and cinched it for me that I HAD TO write YA novels. I devoured all her other books soon after. The relationships and characters she creates are just so...right and make me really really wish I could write like that. So yes, I am envious of her talent and success.

But that doesn't mean I wish her any ill will or anything bad at all. I think that's why I use the word "envy" like "covet" rather than "jealous" which to me has more of a negative thought process associated with it. In fact, I love reading Sarah's blog, was thrilled when I heard about her new novel's release date, and think she comes across as sweet, intelligent, and truly appreciative of her success. I wish her much continued success and happiness because I want to keep reading her books, and I know she worked hard and continues to work hard to get where she is today.

I think that is the key: Envy without unhealthy associations. To use envy as motivation for your own goals, not as a way to wish others less success.

Of course when you are working towards the same goal as someone else and they get there Sooner! Better! Faster! it's hard not to compare yourself to them, but because I am a generally positive person, here are 10 thoughts to Not Get Yer Hate On when jealousy comes out to pound envy on the head:

1. I don't wish I wrote the book that brought this person success. If I had, it wouldn't be the book it is today, and I have too many of my own ideas I need to get on paper!

2. My own books are as good as this person's, so I will find success, too.

3. My own books are better than this person's, so I will find success, too.

4. I work as hard as this person does, so I will find success, too.

5. I may love this person's books, but I wouldn't trade my life for theirs, as our own lives shape our writing.

6. It sounds like this person's path to success was easy, but of course they aren't airing the difficult personal parts of their past/journey that all of us have had.

7. This person got a huge advance, but my book will earn out its advance no matter what the amount, and I'll reap the royalties for years to come.

8. This person is younger than me and already sold their books, but I wouldn't trade what I accomplished when I was that age for what they have now.

9. Someone else already sold a book with a similar theme to my WIP, but that just means the market is open to that kind of book so mine will sell, too.

10. If I had what this person has, it wouldn't make me a better person than I am today.

I love writing. I will never stop. I love revising and seeing my works become more and more polished. I love re-reading my own books and the enjoyment I get from them. I will never stop trying to get them published. I love my life, and all this is enough for me.

How do you beat envy/jealousy?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

You're awesome, Deena! I've dealt with a lot of these feelings, tool. For me, I've always differentiated between jealousy and envy a little differently. For me, the traditional definition is more a matter of perspectives: You are jealous, or protective, of something you deem as already yours. You are envious of those things that belong to someone else.

In that light, I think I wrestle with both of these little buggers. Like you, I love my books, especially my most recent YA. They are my babies and I don't want anyone messing with them in an unsavory way. But I also envy the success of others, and yes, I can't help but count--she's younger than I am, her life sounds so perfect, why can't I command a $50,000 advance on my first book...

But like you, I tend to be motivated more by the positive light of envy--that thing we could call inspiration. "Hey, she did it-- why not me, too?" Yep...that's the way to go. And, "Hurray, my writing buddy just got an agent or a contract...!" That's what great about this community, and your blog! We have so many truly supportive colleagues who genuinely care about the craft more than the competition. Writing is a very personal journey, and I think we all have something to put on the map.

Thanks for sharing your list and your amazing insight, Deena.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Yikes! Sorry that was so long-winded!

DeenaML said...

Mary Ann, you will learn the true definition of long-winded if you spend more time with me. :)

I totally agree that the kidlit community is SO supportive! I've heard it can be a different story for those who do adult lit. I am very grateful for all the support -- online and in person!

Kristina Springer said...

Great list! And I agree with what gg said-- when I've read different writers I always thought well if she did so can I.

Kate Fall said...

Deena, you are made of good stuff! I love your positive attitude.

I get mostly jealous -- no, I guess it's envious -- of other people's talents. I'll read a book that blows me away and wonder why I'm not that smart or talented. But then again, something makes me keep writing. Maybe I'll eventually be that smart and talented. When I'm like 70. Yeah, you all better watch out then! In the meantime, I'll keep soaking up Deena's positivity. And I agree, the kidlit community is amazingly supportive and inspirational.

Emily Marshall said...

Great post, Deena. I'm the same way as Kate, I often read people's stuff and get blown away with their talent and then start second-guessing myself. And you know I struggle with No. 9, but I am really, really starting to agree with you and think your way. I think the 80th reminder that it's a good thing, not a bad thing, is finally sinking in.

DeenaML said...

I'm glad I'm a writer by nature, bc after watching The Secret video last weekend, I learned that I naturally try to manifest things by talking in double negatives:

"I will NOT be SICK"

for example are two negatives. No! Wrong! Must change it to a positive:


Much better! So writing this list was good for me to help drive this point home, too. We need to think in POSITIVES! :)

Lisa Schroeder said...

Yes, think POSITIVE!

Practice getting the call and send all that positive energy out into the world. :)

Sherryl said...

Great post, Deena. I was jealous of another writer for ages, mainly because she won lots of awards. I refused to even read her books!
Then one day I thought how silly that was (I'm still growing up, even at my age!) and got one from the library. I read it and my reaction was: yes, she's a very good writer but no way would I ever want to write books like that. I have my own style and voice, so I should just make the most of that and get on with writing!! It was a good lesson.