A friend of mine just got a book deal. Am I jealous? Honestly, no. Well, why not?? Because I don’t believe in fixed-pie thinking. Success isn’t some giant pie with only 8, 12 or 16 pieces. There’s enough to go around, which isn’t the same thing as saying everyone will be successful in the way they expect. Maybe you have to adjust your expectations or reassess your gifts or expand your knowledge (read the classics, learn a new skill). Change markets. Maybe you aren’t a fiction writer, maybe you’re better suited to essays.
Disclaimer: easy for me to say because I’m really enjoying my life right now. Was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, getting some royalties, a little fan mail, just had a short story accepted, great trips ahead, etc. But I felt this way even when things were bleak and I mean bleak. My first screenplay agent took my contacts to launch his own writing career. The head of that agency took over my career, then ended up in rehab and leaving the business… after her office manager tossed out all of the client scripts when he “cleaned up” the office! Oh yeah, I’ve paid some dues.
So, how to get past those awful feelings of envy? 3 suggestions:
1. I’m next! This is your new mantra. Something great happened to another writer? You’re next! See how that changes your perspective? No fixed pie thinking – think in terms of abundance, that there’s enough to go around even if it doesn’t feel like it. You cannot be ruled by your emotions or you won’t endure until the point of breakthrough. It takes persistence to finish something and even more to see it to market.
2. Create good karma. Everyone rises: help others, celebrate others and they will help and celebrate you. This isn’t always a direct result, but the more generous you are, the more things will come around to you. Plus it’s good for you on many levels. Be a good and kind person (added benefit: it makes the world better). Note: (shameless plug alert) Hitting “Like” on my FB Author Page will help create good karma. Well, in any case, I’d be grateful!
3. Keep writing! The more you produce, the better your chances of getting those wonderful acceptance letters and emails. And keep improving your writing with good impartial feedback, classes, workshops, the company of other writers and directed reading. If you can’t be happy for other writers or get past feeling crummy, then use any negative feelings as fuel to energize your ambition. Psychologists say “I’ll show them” is the most powerful force to overcoming obstacles.
Beat envy by being enviable and keep writing. Oh, and my friend? As soon as the contract is signed and I get the go ahead, I’ll be celebrating and publicizing.
UPDATE: Contract signed! Kate Maruyama’s novel, Harrowgate, will be published by 47North! Release date TBA. Congratulations, Kate!