Seeing Green: In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott spends a lot of air time on writer envy—that bile inside her that bubbles to the surface any time a friend (or frenemy) wins a big award or sells movie rights. Do you suffer from the same affliction? How do you combat it?
There’s always someone richer than you.
There’s always someone more interesting than you.
There’s always someone nicer, tougher, funnier, more determined, luckier, prettier, taller, smoother, stronger, happier, better connected, flashier, more skilled, more beloved, more respected, more more MORE.
Comparing yourself to other people is a losing proposition.
On the other hand, it’s human nature to be competitive, and writers are an observant lot. So it’s pretty hard not to notice how well other people are doing, and it’s pretty easy to feel those pangs of envy
as your fellow authors win their shiny awards and get those three-book contracts and sign their six- and seven-figure movie deals, for work that’s no better than the stuff I spill my blood over and grrr, I hate their steaming guts. Kudos to them all.
Personally, not long after I jumped into the writing “biz,” and realizing what kind of nutty, often random, business it seemed to be, and seeing a lot of unhappy, bitter writers complaining about all sorts of things, most of which they couldn’t control, I made a vow to myself:
No matter what happens, I’m going to try very hard not to let things that don’t go as I wish get me down.
I think I’ve been pretty good about it. I try very hard to generate the best work I know how and let the chips fall where they may. If I never hit the New York Times Bestseller list, so be it.
I’ll still hit number one on Alan’s Gave It Your Best Effort list.
And that’s about all I can control.