let’s talk about “the J word”


green with jealousy

green with jealousy

Up until recently I believed I had green eyes. (Even my driver’s license says so.) But then, my redheaded, hazel-eyed daughter insisted my eyes are blue. So, at my last optometrist appointment, I asked my doctor to confirm once and for all that my eyes are indeed green. (You know, just to set the matter to rest with an expert opinion.) Turns out, my eyes are . . . blue. Truly green eyes, according to my doctor, are rare.

Of course, there’s another kind of green eyes that isn’t so rare–the green eyes of that monster called jealousy. Now, I know I’m poking around in a touchy topic. Jealousy is, well, it’s embarrassing. It makes us feel small, immature and vulnerable. Nothing pretty about that.

Jealousy is an especially sensitive issue among children’s writers. It’s been my experience that we are an exceptionally supportive bunch. We’re not “supposed” to be jealous of one another. But if we’re honest with each other and ourselves, jealousy happens to all of us, me included.

I can’t for a second claim I’ve got a permanent muzzle on my own green-eyed monster, but maybe some of these observations will be helpful to you. Well, I mean, not you, but maybe that jealous, less mature “friend” who needs this advise.

It’s not that you want the other authors to be unsuccessful. It’s just that you want to be successful too. Isn’t that it? Other authors have worked hard and deserve to be recognized. And you darn well know it. The miserable part is waiting and believing your turn is coming, the same way those other (blankity-blank) people believed, and worked and waited.

I used to think that it was only unpublished writers who felt jealous–you know, jealous of those who were being published. But I’ve since learned that’s not the case. Published authors can still be jealous of other authors for having higher Amazon rankings, better book deals, more agent attention, cooler awards or accolades and on and on. The lesson? If you opt to stay on the jealousy train, it’s gonna be a long ride.

Cut yourself some slack if you feel jealous of celebrity authors. I consider this a kind of jealousy loophole. While there are a thimbleful of celebs who can truly write for children, it’s clear that most are relying on their name to sell books. Instead of feeling jealous, I try to console myself with the idea that celebs help to keep publishers afloat, and if those publishers have a healthier bottom line, maybe they’ll have a little extra cash to take chances with lesser knowns like me. (That’s my theory anyway.)

Try to avoid the “why not me?” sink hole. A brain wrapped in layers of green goo can spit out some pretty skewed thinking. For example, we want to attribute someone else’s success to nothing more than luck. Now, luck may have played a role, but it’s likely the object of your jealousy had been working for years so that when fate/luck/happenstance happened, they were ready to take advantage of the opportunity. (Hmm. That was pretty smart of them, wasn’t it?)

Let me challenge you to churn that jealousy into motivation. Rather than let your jealousy sap your creative energy, let it ramp up your focus, drive and productivity. C’mon kid. Dig deep, quit whimpering and create something to provoke jealousy in someone else.

And hey, wait up. I’ll join you!

You can be the moon and still be jealous of the stars. ~ Gary Allan

15 responses »

  1. Hey, I just tried to post to the one about ‘freakin out about only 25 days of winter left and spring will whisk you away from all this ‘in house writing or illustrating’ – to AGREE with you more than ever!!! The bad part is, I haven’t gotten even one drawer/closet cleaning done that I promised myself I’d do a year ago, and so I don’t really know what color eyes you have, I just know they are ‘dead spot on’ about what they see, day 24 and counting…Thanks for the WAKE UP call…


  2. Maybe your eyes are green-blue, in which case, I’m jealous. 🙂 But seriously, great advice! I find myself a tad jealous of those who get to stay home and write. So wish I didn’t have to trudge off to a day job every morning and had more time to write.


    • Hey! I know! Maybe one eye is blue and one is green! I hear you about the desire to stay home and write. Here’s what been odd about that for me–I have a day job too, and I’m finding I write as much, if not more, as I did when I was home all day. I prize my writing time and protect it a lot more than when I felt like I had “all day” to write. Find those slices of time, Lauri, even if it’s just a half hour a day, and make it yours, just like you would an appointment or a class or any other can’t-miss time. You and your writing are worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said. I’m not immune to jealousy — I think most (maybe all) authors get twinges of it. But the ones who set up a comfortable place for it with extra pillows and a footrest seem to me to be asking for trouble. It bites, and everyone sees the scars.
    (I’m going to look more closely at your eyes next time. I’d have voted green.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your honesty, Ruth. Ha! It’s funny (and yes, pathetic) to think of Jealousy lounging on satin pillows.

      And as for my eyes, I still think they’re green too! (What does an optometrist know about eyes anyway, right? Maybe he was jealous.)

      Liked by 1 person

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