Here’s the thing: I’m about to get my soapbox on a little when it comes to the subject of writer vs. writer. Other people have already addressed this in the past – probably more eloquently than I have – but I’m going to take a crack at it anyway.
So grab a vial of the complimentary smelling salts because I’m about to make a startling confession:
I have been jealous of other writers.
Are you clutching your pearls? Heading uncomfortably for the back button? I’ll take it a step further: I have been flat-out, bulge-eyed, green-to-the-gills jealous of other writers. Published. Unpublished. Agented. Unagented. It’s happened. In fact, it’s probably happened in the last 48 hours.
I love the positivity of the writing community, especially the YA writing community that I’ve been following for several months now. Everyone’s out there, saying great things about everyone’s stuff, promoting one another, cheering each other on, and it is awesome.
Sometimes it’s also fake.
Not 100% fake – we have all felt genuine excitement and pride in seeing another writer succeed, especially if that writer is a friend or colleague. But there’s also that voice. You know the one. A voice that goes, “Really? Why them and not me? I worked harder! I suffered more! My book is better! I EARNED it more than they did!”
Let’s all just step up and admit that this has happened, that we’ve heard that voice when someone hit a milestone ahead of us. If you haven’t, then congratulations. You probably also have no stress wrinkles, perfectly quaffed hair and a first draft that smells like roses, in which case, you’re dismissed to go sit in the corner.
As for the rest of us, the jealousy is inevitable. When we’re aspiring, it happens when a crit partner gets an agent before we do. When we’re agented, it’s when a fellow writer gets a publishing contract while we’re getting forwarded editor rejections. Or maybe both people get published, but the other one gets a big, multi-book deal and we get a one-book deal with a small advance. It’s the cover, the release date, the marketing buzz, the sales that roll in, the reviews and fan responses – there is always, ALWAYS going to be someone who is doing better than you.
It doesn’t matter.
The fact that that jealous feeling creeps out from the shadowy corners of your brain? Also doesn’t matter. We’re human – it happens.
What really matters is what you do about it.
You can wallow in it. Or you can take two minutes to let yourself go, “Damn, I am super-jealous of [fill-in-the-blank]” and then put on your Big Kid Panties and get back into the freaking mix already.
Writing is not a zero-sum game. It’s not Highlander, okay? There can definitely be more than one. That’s the whole reason why there’s such a thing as a writing community in the first place – because we can all win. Everyone’s path is going to be different, some people are going to shoot right out of the gate and over the finish line and others will have to do a cross-country trek, but the only way you really fail is to stop playing entirely. There is a supportive, loving YA writing community on the internet because there are hundres of published and unpublished writers out there who have realized this and chosen to stay in the game.
We all get jealous sometimes. I have, and I certainly will again, so I’m never going to be one who holds that against anybody. It’s what all of us choose to do after the jealousy that really counts.