Someone reads out a piece in your writing class. It’s fantastic – but you can’t bring yourself to say so; you read the winning short story in a competition and dismiss it as ‘rubbish!’ Or an acquaintance tells you she’s got a book deal and you feel a twist of displeasure… Recognise any of these feelings?
That’s the introduction to an article I wrote for Writing magazine on the touchy subject of ‘jealousy amongst writers’.
It’s ugly, isn’t it? (Not my writing! Jealousy!) but I reckon most of us, whether we’re ‘wannabes’ or prize-winning, published writers, can’t avoid the green-eyed monster from time-to-time.
The best way to get over it is, in my experience, to turn your angry loathing and shameful resentment into.. admiration! Or, at least, try to turn those negative feelings into positive ones.
If someone else has achieved what you want, find out more about how they did it. Perhaps you can learn from them? Follow their blog, buy their book, read – and analyse – their winning short story, congratulate them when they announce their successes (sounds tricky that one, but it’s amazingly liberating and cathartic!).
But another tip, in all seriousness, is to switch off social media, or limit your time on it. It’s very ‘boasty-boasty’ (to use Marian Keyes’ expression). Sometimes scrolling through Facebook or Twitter feels like I’m reading a list of everyone else’s book sales, publishing contracts, story acceptances and generally perfect lives. (I stopped looking at ‘Friends Reunited‘ for the same reason).
If you’re not feeling 100% wonderful about yourself and your writing, it can be a bit depressing! Remember Roosevelt’s wise words: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
K is for KITCHEN and KETTLENow, even though I am supposed to write in The Cave, I can usually be found here, at this (currently sun-drenched) table in the kitchen (especially in the winter, as it’s next to the Aga and therefore is toasty warm!).
As you can see, it’s a bit
lot of a mess! I am not a tidy, organised person, in case you hadn’t already worked that out. But apparently, having a messy desk helps you to think more creatively.
I don’t think the kettle needs any explanation (white, no sugar for me please).
L – is for LAUREATE
I was the Poet Laureate for Warwick District from 2006 – 7.
I am telling you this, not to be boasty-boasty but because a) no-one was more surprised than me when it happened and b) it opened lots of doors for me, so it’s something I can heartily recommend, if you ever get the chance to take up an honourary writing position of any kind.
There are more and more opportunities for regional poet laureates and ‘writers-in-residence’. Mostly, you won’t be paid but you might receive commissions on the back of your ‘title’, or be asked to teach workshops or creative writing classes or compere/introduce open mic poetry events. I did all of those things as a direct result of becoming the Warwick Poet Laureate (and as well as all that, it’s really good fun!)