Green is not always good

Green Devil

Me after reading a much better blog than mine

Envy. Envy is on my mind. It’s an evil side effect of the creative spirit. Well, of anyone who wants to succeed at anything – business, art, parenting, marriage, money. It’s that little twinge of ‘why not meeee?’

It’s such a common problem, even amongst the most talented. Envy can stop people in their tracks, making them feel their own work isn’t good enough, and setting them back for years.

Even the people with enough confidence or chutzpah or arrogance (call it what you like) can feel this. They may just show it in a different guise: as dismissal (‘dumb bastard wouldn’t know a split infinitive if it bit him’) or anger (tearing up their own manuscript/canvas) or upstaging (behaving really badly at the book/exhibition). I promise that none of these are from my own experience!

It’s been a hard path, but I’m finally (almost) free of the envy that I used to feel when other writers got published, or won prizes, or simply wrote something so wonderful that my guts twisted and I put my own writing aside for months at a time.

The opposite of ‘envy’ could be ‘inspiration’. I have learned now to take something from other writers’ success rather than allowing it to eat away at me. I will still feel twinges of the green-eyed devil at times (hey, it’s a very human emotion, hard to suppress!) but now I allow that feeling to happen for a moment, and then I try to see it from another view – how hard did that person have to work, or what issues might they be tackling?

Almost always you will find that the other person has something that eats away at them, too; or they had an awful childhood, or suffer from ongoing illness – there’s very few people (any?) who have perfect, unscarred lives. Once I learn this, I think well, that person damn well deserved that success!


My dogs are not entirely free from envy, either

And of course, you figure out eventually that envy does absolutely nothing for you personally. Unless you’re the type that works harder and better, driven by the emotion – but that’s probably not a healthy way to do it. I would imagine you could end up with ulcers and migraines that way – quite a stressful way to work!

So this is advice I’d give to writers (or anyone) starting out: feel the envy if it comes, but get over it – congratulate the other person and move on. Be inspired by their work, get back to your own work, take constructive criticism on board, and practice and polish until it’s the best it can be 🙂

(PS Just as I’d almost finished this post, I Googled authors who were crippled by others’ success, and found ENDLESS blogs on writers’ envy! Damn it, some of the blogs were so much better than mine that I nearly curled up in a ball and deleted my post! Then I thought, nah, bugger it, I can’t think of anything else to post, so it’s staying. So laziness got the better of envy. Yay!

(PPS Click here for one of those blogs – they give really good advice on how not envy your published friends. No, of course I’m not envious of their really good advice, how dare you! 😉 )


About carolynswriting

Author, Menagerie Manager, 9-5er. Love my writing, my family and other animals, my friends, and even my job :)
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2 Responses to Green is not always good

  1. colinandray says:

    Interesting thoughts! I would suggest that while “envy” is undeniably self destructive, it is also a very poor and incomplete observation. Pick one person who you envy and, if you got to know their lifestyle, the relationships, their health situation, their debt load, etc. etc. … would you still envy them? I remember reading an article a longtime ago about “gifted” children. “Gifted” tends to be synonymous with “high achiever” and the statement was made: “Show me a high achiever, and I’ll show you a person with severe issues in their background.” I knew a very affluent Jewish gentleman who works pretty much 24/7. His reason was that he was simply working to forget his past (parents were killed in Holocaust). Understanding these possibilities … I cannot remember the last time that I envied anybody. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly Colin! I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction, but when you look closely there’s very few people untouched by life – it’s definitely an emotion that damages only yourself. Sadly some people also become outwardly destructive too 😦 Definitely one to learn to deal with if you do experience it!

      Liked by 1 person

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