Jealousy and the success of others

I’ve written here before about the pains you have to go through if you want to be a writer. I spoke about rejections, and how the fact that they are something we must all endure does not make them any less painful. There are also other things that are part of an aspiring author’s life that are just as hard to deal with. I want to discuss one of them with you; jealousy.

One of the things that I have discovered about myself now I am trying to get published is that I find it very hard, for a short time at least, to be happy for those who manage it. I’m not proud of this. In fact I hate the way it makes me feel, but the fact is that every time I see an announcement about a first time author getting a publishing deal, or that an agency has signed somebody new, I get an angry stab of jealousy. It’s not pretty and it’s unfair. But it’s part of life.

It’s an understandable feeling. I’ll give myself that at least. As much as I don’t like it I am going to have to see other people succeeding where I have not. And I should be happy for them. I know only too well the pain of rejection and the desire to make it and get an agent/publisher. It’s almost certain that this other author went through the same things. Deep down I’m happy that someone has the things I want, but the overriding thought is that I’d rather it had happened to me.

And it’s not just strangers. A friend of mine recently won a writing competition. He’s a very talented writer and well deserved the win. Yet when I saw his name on the list of winners my first thought wasn’t happiness at a friend’s success, but jealousy at it. I didn’t even enter the competition and so can’t even claim to have been competing with him. The only thought that went through my mind was that he had achieved a measure of success that I had not.

I hate it when I feel like this. It’s a petty and mean part of me that I don’t like seeing. I was about to write that “it’s not who I am”, but clearly it is who I am. Is part of who all of us are when we want something badly. But I have to accept it and not let it make me bitter. It really doesn’t bother me more than a little while. I don’t dwell on it. People will make it, and hopefully someday so will I and then some other hopeful writer can feel the dark, angry stab of jealousy.

Like direct rejection, jealousy is something we all have to go through. As aspiring authors you have to keep an eye on social media and trade announcements to see what opportunities are out there, and so you are going to see the people who are getting ahead of us. It doesn’t make it any less painful, but you can’t let it become you.

I guess it’s all down to the same fear that rejection taps into; the fear that it will never be our turn. We all know that there are hundreds of people who want to be authors but who just don’t have the talent. We all have the fear that we are one of those. One of those people who just isn’t good enough. And every time somebody makes it it’s just another example of how other people are good enough to get published.

So all I can do is work on my thick skin and carry on. I don’t begrudge other authors finding the success that I want. I really don’t. I just really want some of it for myself.

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