My Writing A-Z … J is for JEALOUSY

greenJ is for JEALOUSY

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.”


The kitchen. Messy but warm...

The kitchen. Messy but warm…

Now, 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!)


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11 Responses to My Writing A-Z … J is for JEALOUSY

  1. Nicola says:

    I don’t see the point in being jealous of others. It’s just draining and unproductive (so that means, I must have experienced it at some point, eh? :)). I am genuinely pleased for those who have achieved something – mainly because they’ve worked hard for it and if they haven’t they are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time or know the right person. That’s just life. I’ve always had to work extra hard to create my own luck and with sheer determination usually get there in the end (mind you, that doesn’t mean I don’t suffer with frustration and many an object has been lobbed across the room). I really enjoyed your article – very well written, published and well-earned!! Congrats! Look forward to the next one, so get up in that Cave of yours 🙂

    • I agree Nicola, being jealous is draining and unproductive but we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t suffer from a ‘flicker’ of jealousy every now and then! I find it actually spurs me on, if someone else is doing ‘better’ than me (however you judge that!). They’re clearly working hard – so I need to work hard too! As you say, you make your own luck and the harder you work, you usually reap the rewards.

  2. Wendy Clarke says:

    I am always very happy to see other people’s stories in magazines when I’ve just had a rejection *grr* *hiss**fume*

    • Tee hee, Wendy! I know what you mean. But it’s swings and roundabouts, isn’t it? I know that, after a lean time, I may well get a ‘flurry’ of acceptances. We have to take the rough with the smooth…

  3. juliathorley says:

    J is for juggling: time, space, money, priorities, etc, etc. K is for KitKat: nuff said. L is for length of stories and articles: why are my ideas always too long or too short?

    • Julia

      I like your choices for J, K, L! I didn’t think of Kit Kat at all! K was quite hard, actually. I was going to talk about two of my faves – Kinsella and Keyes – but I’ve mentioned them both in ‘H is for HUMOUR’ so I had to think of something else! (how am I going to manage Q and X and Z?? eeek)

  4. Liz says:

    Thanks for an interesting blog. I think it is right that social media can take over if you’re not careful and, sometimes, the most important things in life can be forgotten, like walking in the wind or watching a kitten play. Another ‘remedy’ for envy is to use it in your writing; maybe create a character you wouldn’t normally consider … It seems a shame, to me, that with success can come unfair and unnecessary criticism born of jealousy. Get on and do your own writing, I say. I have cast off concern and begun to blog my words rather than either keep them to myself or get downhearted about what I am not doing or achieving. The internet creates a whole world of possibilities and opportunities provided you are realistic and know what your aim is.

  5. rosgemmell says:

    I think in general writers are very supportive of each other and I’m genuinely pleased for others, maybe because I’ve belonged to a writing group for many years where I both give and get encouragement. I know what you mean about reading all the successes on social media at times, though!

  6. charliebritten says:

    Regarding jealousy, aargh! All the other writers’ work is rubbish, obviously, or they knew somebody, or… Something. I’m sure we all identify with your post 100%.

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