This week’s #RWchat topic is all about jealousy. (And yes, this post title comes from a Gin Blossoms song.)
Envy is real. We look over at someone else getting the book deal, winning the award, hitting the bestseller list, and we think, “I want that.” But envy can be useful. It can guide us toward new goals, and allow us to study how other people got to where we want to go. Envy can push us to work harder and smarter. But if left unchecked, or allowed to run rampant in the mind, envy can quickly turn to jealousy, which is far more insidious.
The dictionary defines jealousy as, “jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.” The key word here is resentment. Resentment can fester and grow, sapping creativity and damaging personal and professional relationships.
Last month, I attended the Liberty States Fiction Writers’ “Create Something Magical” conference with fellow RWchat co-host Robin Lovett. On a whim, we went to a session called “I Want What She’s Got: How to Cope with Professional Jealousy” led by Avery Flynn and Kimberly Kincaid. Normally I’m a compulsive note-taker, and I live-tweet workshops and panels, but this felt too personal to live-tweet.
Avery and Kimberly spoke candidly about real scenarios from their friendship with each other and author Robin Covington. They talked about running a newsletter together and when/why they decided to split it up. They brought up the RITA award nominations, and RT Awards, and how they felt when one or two of them got nominated and the other/s didn’t.
You want to be happy for your friends, they said. But deep inside, you’re also wishing it had happened to you. What do you do in those situations? (One option: Say congrats, then take yourself off social media for a while. We’ll talk more about this in Sunday’s chat.)
The slides mentioned jealousy-causing things like how the bar for success always moves, human nature, the public nature of the business, consistent rejection, and how jealousy can build if internalized because we’re all buddies who are rooting for each other. “Measure of success” came up a number of times at the conference, and here they made the point that jealousy can lead you to long for things you don’t actually even want, thus taking you away from the things you do want to work toward.
Despite the projector and Powerpoint presentation, or maybe because the room was dark and small and cozy, the session turned into real talk with both Avery and Kimberly and the women assembled to hear them speak.
We talked about how prolonged feelings of jealousy can be emotionally and physically harmful, and damaging to friendships if bottled up. We talked about finding your tribe, needing support, and people falling away as your star rises. (Some people can’t handle others’ success. It’s okay. Hold onto the people who lift you up, not the ones who would pull you down.) We talked about the importance of communication, so resentment doesn’t build up among friends who are also authors. And above all, we talked about the power of vulnerability.
Jealousy can be used as a tool to guide you toward goals and help you attain them, but it can also twist and take you off track in directions you didn’t even want to go. Pay attention to your feelings. They’re valid, and you deserve to give them space, but they don’t have to rule you. Notice what’s coming up. Examine why.
And then get back to writing.
Golden Heart® finalist Alexis Daria’s debut contemporary romance will be released in 2017 from SMP Swerve. On Sunday evenings, Alexis co-hosts #RWchat, a weekly Twitter chat for romance writers. She also serves as PRO Liaison for the New York City chapter of RWA, and Municipal Liaison for the NYC region of National Novel Writing Month. You can find her on Twitter at @alexisdaria, and follow her blog creativestaycation.com.