(See p. 116 of Bird by Bird for an explanation of radio station KFKD).
Anne Lamott devoted an entire chapter to the subject of writers being envious of other writers. And it always makes me feel oodles better when I read it. I’m not alone in my sometimes bitter, unrealistic, and unproductive desire to have what someone else has.
Because this is such a big topic, I’m doing it in two parts. Today I’ll talk about what it is and tomorrow, instead of First Page Friday, I’ll talk about ways to push through or get over author envy.
What’s crazy is that I know other writers who are envious of me. Me, the barely mid-list writer with six books published and a fear that her seventh, which she finally has back on track, will be rejected because of that barely mid-list status. But I’m published and if you’re not published yet…well, I totally get it.
I think I am living proof of that old adage about never being satisfied. I’m sure at one time I thought: “If only I could get a book published, I would be completely happy.” Of course, I don’t remember thinking that because I’d already moved on to “If only I could get a book on the bestseller lists or have it made into a movie or win the Newbery Medal or the Printz award…” and on and on and on.
I’m Happy Until I’m Not
I started off the year by setting some realistic writing goals for myself and getting started on them. It felt good to get those down and have something very specific to work toward. In addition, I love the book I’m working on and am excited about where it’s going. I’m enthusiastic about the picture book I just sent to my critique group in spite of the incredibly competitive state of the current picture book market. I’ve been feeling really happy in spite of all the changes in the publishing industry until…
I read some of the headlines for Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf which comes into my In Box and then read some more about how all these successful authors are doing all these fun things and becoming even more successful. Why can’t I just be happy for them and maybe get inspired? Sometimes I can, but this time it sent me into a downward spiral of self-doubt and bummed-outedness (this word should be in the dictionary) that was pretty crazy. I started wondering what I’m doing and why.
I need to get back on my happy track.
So what can I (and others do) when the green monster strikes? Tomorrow I’ll talk about that, but if you have envy stories to share, bring them on!