Sour, stomach-twisting, soul-sucking ENVY.
I've been doing this writing thing off and on for 10 years. I've been doing the trying-to-get-published thing hardcore, with agented submissions and revisions and resubmissions, for more than 2. I've gotten close. I have high hopes for the novel I'm working on now. But I haven't yet quite made it past that hurdle, and it's been an emotionally drenched up-and-down run.
The writing community--especially the YA writing community--is close, a tangled knot of interconnected writers, where everybody knows and supports each other. I spend my days surrounded online by YA writers I love. I cheer with them, joke with them, read their work and blogs and emails. I feel that most of them are friends tangentially at least, and many are good friends. I adore these people. I truly want them to succeed.
And yet--and yet.
Still it kicks me in the gut when I read about another 3-book deal with an editor we submitted to. Still I have to take a breath before I smile when I hear someone's book went to auction in the first week of submission. Still I flinch when I see writers half my age sell their fourth book, see people who went on submission long after I did showing their covers or their release dates. Sometimes it's hard to be surrounded virtually by success at something you want so badly, but haven't managed. (yet)
But here's the good news, in my opinion. That horrible envy, those moments of selfishness? They're OKAY. It is perfectly normal and natural to feel a moment of bad for yourself in the midst of feeling glad for others. It's human.
The tricks I've found to feeling that way and still going on, without falling into the suck:
- Allow yourself to feel bad, but NOT FOR LONG. Put a time limit on it. You can feel sorry for yourself for--oh, an hour. Max. And then you get the heck over yourself and you realize that person, that friend, has felt this way too, has had their own struggles, but they've finally made it. And now is their time to celebrate, and your time to HELP THEM CELEBRATE. They need you to. It's okay to feel the envy pangs--it is not okay to wallow.
- Never allow your personal issues to show (erm, outside of this blog post). Envy is personal and private, and okay in that context. It's *maybe* okay to share with a close, trusted friend. It is never allowed, in my opinion, to let any sense of envy dictate your behavior: to say rude things or bring anyone down.
- Realize that everyone feels this way at some point. Even if they seemingly sailed to this achievement, be absolutely certain they've had issues you have no idea about, that there's more behind the scenes.
- Don't let up. Continue to focus on your work, on improving, on things you can control. That is how you will make it to the celebration stage yourself.
And all my dear friends who have succeeded, are succeeding: don't be afraid to share your good news with me! I promise that even if it makes me hurt for a second, that is quickly overwhelmed by my happiness that you really have done it.
And hope that if you can, if I keep pounding someday I will too.