Jealousy is an ugly emotion. But in this business, it's difficult to avoid. I've done a pretty good job over the years of not comparing my journey to other authors'. We're all on different paths, and that's cool. Some writers are hitting it big with their first book while others are taking the slower path.
But last week, I read about a deal that woke the monster in me. Jealousy. Maybe it was because I was getting sick, but I had that feeling of, "WTF? Why not me?" and I couldn't let it go.
I don't know this author, and the truth is that I wish her the best of luck. I don't hold it against her that she got this deal while I've had to struggle to get where I am (though I'd be an ass if I didn't admit that there are likely writers out there watching my journey thinking I'm a jerk because I didn't have to struggle nearly as much as they did...and that's a fair assessment...I can definitely be a jerk). But I couldn't help feeling how I felt.
So I began thinking up stories that I could write that would get me a similar deal. Then I read a line from another author about writing what you love. It sounds ridiculously simple advice, but it's the truest. I returned to reality with the realization that my journey was not this other writer's journey. I'd never write the stories she writes because I have my own stories to write. I could think up all these similar plots, but I'd never love them the way I love my stories.
Writers don't often talk about it because we're not supposed to, but it's hard watching friends do well. As friends, we want them to succeed. But as fellow writers, we want to succeed too. And there's no getting around professional jealousy. Around the feeling that my books are better, my books are more deserving. Only, that kind of thinking doesn't sell books. It doesn't wow editors or readers. It only makes life more shitty.
I'm not going to deny feeling jealous of those other writers. But I'm going to have to let it pass. I'm going to congratulate them on their success. I'm going to mean it. And then I'm going to return to working on the stories that I love. Because success doesn't mean a NYT Bestseller or my books being optioned as movies or TV shows. Success to me is doing what I love and seeing that love returned by happy readers.