Writer’s envy: getting it back in the box

I hate to admit it, because I want to be able to pretend I am an all round good person, but there have been plenty of times I’ve been eaten up by envy. There are hundreds of thousands of writers out there and a good whack of them have turned me into a slinking, green eyed beast at some point.

But you know what? I think a little jealousy can be a good thing – as long as you’re not bitter about it and you know when to put a cap on it. After all, if I hadn’t read passages that made me think ‘shit, if only I could write like that,’ I doubt I’d have worked so hard on the writing I have done.

If I hadn’t ever opened a best seller and wondered what the writer had that I didn’t, I could have missed out on experimenting with a bunch of different styles until I found a few that fit. And if I hadn’t seen my contemporaries making names for themselves, I might not have dragged myself off my ass long enough to start trying to do the same for myself.

anti drama monkey

The Anti-Drama Monkey

The other thing is, the harder I’ve been working at all of these things, and the more writers I’ve been meeting, the less jealousy I’ve been experiencing. Why is that? It’s not down to any major massive best selling success on my part. Instead, I think it’s because I don’t feel frustrated as all hell most of the time and because the majority of writers I’ve met have been really very lovely people, who I want to see doing well.

I’m not going to lie and say I never feel just a teeny bit jealous every now and then, I hang around with a lot of very talented people after all, but I know when to put those feelings back in the box. Sometimes a little chocolate and a few drinks are needed to tempt it in there, but it’s all for the greater good!

Married to writing – do your work and lover mix?

In umpteen tips sections of writers blogs, speeches and books I’ve come across this sage advice: never show your manuscript to your mother, your best friend or your lover. And generally I’ve thought, fair enough. But for the first time in my life I’m dating another writer and I want to share everything.

In the past I’ve had boyfriends who failed to cast an eye over a single one of my stories (and that did not go down well with me) and others that tried, and even sometimes appreciated, but never fully ‘got’ what I was trying to do. Now things are different. And even though my lover doesn’t write in the same genre as me, I trust his opinion and we have taken to, if not editing, then at least critiquing each other’s work – even when it’s still at a fairly early draft.

So far it’s working well. But already I have a suspicion that criticism, even imagined criticism, from him is going to cut a hell of a lot deeper than any meted out by my writers group could. And I suppose I would do well to remember that this could also apply in reverse.

I don’t want to give this up – it’s amazing talking about what I’m trying to do because it’s so rarely something that happens and it is especially rare to do it with someone whose opinion you totally value. But am I playing with fire trying to mix such personal, interior and precious work with the person I want to support and who I want to be totally supportive of me?

And then there’s the possibility of jealousy, and all the times he writes something I wish had come to me first… but I think that’s too big a topic to tackle here. The green eyed monster surely needs a whole post pf her own! For now I’m going to keep growing and hope that it’s a recipe we can both handle.