On Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Fame and Fortune

There’s no way I can write what I’d like here without coming off preachy. I know, how unuuuuusual, Terry. So I’ll just apologize upfront with a note that I aim this largely at myself.

So, fellow writers, show of hands–underneath all the “atta boys” and “nice jobs” and “you go, girls” how many times have you wanted to put your hands around a fellow writers’ neck and wring it until they let go of the Precious. The Precious being the contract, the contest win, the agent, the sales you can’t seem to achieve. Another show of hands–how often have you trashed said “successful” writer to your trusted good-friend (also a writer)? Come on, someone irks the hell out of you. Fame and fortune come sliding into their lives, unearned. They’re charmed! They don’t write better than you–they’ve turned to the Dark Side and been given special powers. Okay, I’m mixing my trilogies here.

This came up last night when my husband played the worst round of golf in his life (he’s a great golfer). His friend expressed a little glee at my husband’s misery (I witnessed it). His friend is not the golfer my husband is. So, a little hurt and a log of anger. Of course, they were both being babies. Isn’t it nice we writers don’t act this way? Ahem.

If you’ve gotten this far, perhaps I can share another tale I learned in martial arts. A frustrated student never practiced much, but always resorted to trickery to try to trip up a better competitor. He was very jealous of this fellow. His master instructor pulled him aside, and drew two lines in the sand, one half the length of the other. The longer line stood for the champion. “Grasshopper, without shortening your oponent’s line, how can you become his equal, even surpass him?” A shrug. The master extended the line of the jealous student to match the champion’s. “Only by improving your own skills. You cannot make him worse, you can only make yourself better.”

Note to self: let your jealousy motivate you to do better, not to trash others.

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6 thoughts on “On Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Fame and Fortune

  1. Tempest Knight says:

    This is a great post, Ciar. Especially with the Nationals coming up and all the posts I’ve been reading lately about authors attacking others in their blogs. I’ve not seen so many claws drawn before – not even among cats.

    It’s natural to feel a twinge of jealousy when you see someone snag the best editor around or a superb contract with the hottest NY publisher. But instead of using those energies to cause pain, it’s best to channel them inwardly and see how it can help us to become better at what we do.

  2. Toni Sue says:

    Wow, that was deep. You made excellent points that I hope a few fellow writers will read 🙂 It’s human nature for the green-eyed monster to take over when someone hits the big time but I hope that, the good Lord willing, if it ever happens to me, you’ll all be there to scrape me off the ceiling and celebrate with me the way I’ll be there for you 🙂

  3. Rene Lyons says:

    There’sone author I’d love to see get her comeuppance. But not out of jealousy. She’s not very nice, but wildly popular by pretending to wonderful and cool and just plain awesome. But the facade is begining to fracture. People are starting to see her true colors. I can’t say I’ll be happy if she topples off her high horse, but I won’t be sad either.

    Okay…screw that. I’ll be giggling her whole way down. 😉

  4. Lyric says:

    *snicker* Rene. Yeah, I love it when someone who deserves it, gets their comeuppance. Ohhh..the green eyed monster…glad he hasn’t grabbed me by the neck either.

  5. SM says:

    Very well said! Even those of us “non-writers” (well, sort of…) can learn a great deal from that post. A lesson for life, if I’ve every read one!

  6. Lauren Dane says:

    I have to say that I’ve gotten so much support from other authors that I wouldn’t be where I was without that.

    Is it hard when I see people, even people I love and think are incredibly talented get NY book deals when I haven’t yet? Sure. Even when I’m happy for them it’s still hard.

    I don’t generally think in terms of competition in this arena. Because books are all so different and writing voice is so different that I don’t think that someone else’s success is at my expense.

    BUT, I cant lie – when I see certain people get big book deals it drives me insane because they suck and pretend not to and I’d rather be a bitch out loud than pretend to be sweet and stab anyone in the back.

    Still, I have too much stuff to do every day to think on it overmuch but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me a twinge from time to time.

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