Thursday, December 2, 2010

Greater and Lesser

A couple of things have had me thinking. Always a dangerous thing. First: the things that made me think:

  1. A fellow writer sent an email out about how she was having a confidence crisis, worried about making it.
  2. Natalie Whipple wrote a blog post that made me cry.
Here's something you may or may not know about me. 

I get jealous.

Like, ridiculously, stupidly jealous.

Before I finished my first novel (ten years ago), I was jealous of the people who'd actually written a whole novel, omg amazing.

Then I finished my first novel.

After I finished writing it, I was jealous of the people who got published with their first novel.

After my twentieth birthday, I was jealous of all those teens who got published. Christopher Paolini gave me a complex and made me feel ancient while I was still in college.

I started blogging to get practice with writing and network with writers. I was (and sometimes still am) jealous of everyone with more blog followers than me. Or more comments. Or cleverer posts.

I could go on. Long story short: I wrote for ten years and completed ten novels, and every. Single. Step. of the way, I was jealous of someone else. Nearly everyone else.

I was jealous of those who were agented.

I was jealous of book deals.

Oh, how I was jealous of the book deals. 

Now I can look back at those years I spent jealous of others, and shake my head. Now I can look at all the rejection, and understand that it made me a better writer, and a better person. Now I can appreciate the whole journey, even the parts that sucked. 


But not then. Not while I was in it.

Look, I know it's not good for me to think this way. I know it. I know that I made myself miserable--sickeningly utterly miserable. I know that I would be happier if I didn't get jealous. I know that there's no point in being jealous, especially when it comes to writing--after all, writing is by definition subjective. 

I know all this.

But I don't always believe it.

But the thing that I gets me through my green eyes is a line from the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. My parents have a copy hanging on the wall, and I memorized a bit of it by accident (when I was little, I just read everything that my eyes rested on--framed poems on the wall, cereal ingredients, whatever. Heck, I do that now). 

Anyway, the Desiderata:

... always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

There will always be someone better: they have an agent and you don't; they have a book deal and you don't; they have 10,000 blog followers and you don't; they have a better review, they have a better cover, they have a better marketing plan, they have something and you don't.

And there will always be someone who's looking up at you, wishing they had what you had.

Knowing that makes it easier, I think. It helps my green eyes fade, at least. It reminds me that I'm human--but so is everyone else.

Oh, and also? I know it's way easy for me to write this. Now. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that. But I also know that part of the reason why I wrote this post, today, was because sometimes I still get jealous. I didn't throw that Max Ehrmann quote up there for you. I wrote it for me. Because I still need to remind myself of it. I still need to tell myself, in the dark cold of the night, that I don't have to be jealous of other people, that being me is enough.

I still have to remind myself of some of the last lines of the Desiderata:
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
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