Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Jealousy Food Chain

There seems to be a food chain of jealousy in publishing. Someone just starting a WIP might be irritated when their critique partner announces they just finished a first draft; so-and-so is freaking out about a full request and you only got a partial; if one more person announces they signed with an agent you're going to throw something; the agented writer cringes when another book deal is announced and they're still on sub; the person with a one-book deal wonders why this other person got a two-book deal, with a bigger publishing house; everyone is jealous of the seven figure deal that's buzzing all over Twitter; this author over here really wishes their cover could have been as amazing as so-and-so's cover; the author that has to keep their day job may envy the full-time writer who cranks out more than one book a year and is constantly on tour like a rock star; we see yet another movie or TV series being made out of a fantasy or paranormal and think WHY CAN'T I WRITE A BOOK LIKE THAT?; those authors with movie deals might be jealous over another movie's casting, as they have zero control over this, or glare at the (few) people with theme parks/thrill rides based on their books/comics etc ... that's really as far as my brain can see this going. If you land a theme park set in the world of your imagination, YOU HAVE ARRIVED! ;)

*UPDATE - of course, as KM mentioned in the comments, we are also VERY happy for everyone's good news. It should be more encouraging than discouraging that dreams DO come true!

I think it's probably common to wish you were in a different place, no matter WHERE you are yourself. Unless you're J.K. Rowling, there's always someone ahead of you (and I'll bet even she admires someone else--you never know). For some reason, we get it into our heads that we need to rush rush rush. "But I want to be a NYT Bestseller NOW!" "I want that seven-figure deal NOW!"

But we can't let that jealousy rob us of our individual experience. Sure, we can look to the future and have hopes and goals, but we can't be so blinded by it we miss what's right in front of us. Everyone ahead of you was right where you are at one point, they just happened to go through it first. I'm learning to look at them as proof that these goals can actually be accomplished, and work my rear off to get there. Channel that desire to be where they are into making it happen, and don't give up and start whining about it all. It's WORK. Hard work. You have to love it.

As I'm waiting and waiting for my first book to make it onto a shelf next year, I've found myself wishing time would just HURRY UP ALREADY so I can realize that dream. But... why would I wish my life to speed up? I have plenty to enjoy at this stage, as well as a lot of work before I'm READY to be any farther along.


  1. This is all very legit stuff - we can't all be Lauren Oliver and Margaret Stohl at this point in our lives. ;-) But I like what you said about seeing those people as examples of the fact that it IS possible to get there - it IS possible to have your book made into a theme park. I mean, that's pretty insane if you think about it, that there are enough people who read that book series to warrant someone building a theme park. And if it can happen to her, it can happen to someone else! :)

    I also just try to be happy for other people, which is super hard sometimes. But I was genuinely excited when I saw Julie Kagawa got a 7-figure deal because I think she seems like such a cool person. And I was genuinely excited when Bloomsbury picked up your book because OBVIOUSLY you're a cool person. ;-) And I think it's just about stepping aside and saying, "You can go first. It's your turn, not mine. It's all you, girl, get it!" Of course, easier said than done when I see Lauren Oliver pounding out drafts and going on tour and etc. etc. lol

  2. Well said, Kristin ... and KM, too. :) I have many more days when I'm genuinely happy for people who have book deals, etc, etc, than NOT happy.... (And I'm always thrilled when it's my friends!) But yeah, when you're having a bad day and the waiting feels too long, it is easy to want to skip over those tweets about someone-you-don't-know's good news. I guess it is a little bit of jealousy, but it's more of a mind game, because it's so easy to slip into this idea that everyone's succeeding except you, even when it's not true at all. It's good to be realistic all the time. This business just takes awhile, and that's gotta be okay. Like you said, we're all on our own, unique journey. :D

  3. I don't think that far into book deals. I think, I'll write this and I hope someone will read it. I haven't been a popular writer though I think that is different. I don't know the logistics of what to hope for ... An agent? A contract? How about plain inspiration? I love that feeling. Great ideas here-you made me think!

  4. So true and a great post! That jealousy sneaks up on us too! Just when you think, i'm feeling pretty good about me right now, something sets it off. And for me it's always something weird that sets it off. Stupid feels

  5. So well said and a great reminder of all of us :)