Jealousy is one of the occupational hazards of being a writer, and the most degrading. And I, who have been the Leona Helmsley of jealousy, have come to believe that the only things that help ease or transform it are (a) getting older, (b) talking about it until the fever breaks, and (c) using it as material. ~Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird
So even Anne suffers from this disease. At least I’m in good company.
I once talked with a friend at a writing conference held in a Mexican restaurant. She told me about the novel she was working on and how her publisher had requested the historical setting–the same setting I planned for mine, one I thought was unique.
That’s about the time the green guy appeared at my shoulder with a bowl of chips.
“That could have been YOU,” he hissed like hot salsa in my ear. “SHOULD have been you. After all, YOU had the idea first. You are such a procrastinator. All these great ideas you have, and you never follow through. If you’d finished first, that publisher would have snapped your book right up. You lose. Again. And by the way, you’re not getting any younger.”
I threw the jalapeno fire sauce in his face.
Sometimes that’s the only way to handle that green guy.
But you know, that might have been when I quit seriously working on my own book–as in thinking about plots and characters and doing research. Not in as actually writing. Unless you count the first bit I wrote and shredded. I ignored the fact that sometimes one’s success breaks the ice for others.
I still haven’t read my friend’s book.
And that green guy still shows up every so often.
“How about that? She’s been blogging less time and has more followers. And just look at that string of comments!”
“No agent or publisher is going to come begging for you based on your blog.”
“How do you suppose all these women manage to go to all these conferences and trips and cook these Food Network-worthy meals anyway?”
“Ha! He just wrote a book right smack off your “platform! Guess you won’t be writing that one.”
“You really would be happier if you just gave it all up. Made a little soap. Finished stripping the wallpaper and finally painted these walls. Put your feet up and watched Duck Dynasty like everybody else.”
It’s enough to make you throw yourself down the back stairs, as Anne says.
Just the other morning that green guy showed up for early morning coffee. He read Facebook posts over my shoulder and clucked this tongue. “It’s not fair, you know. You’re older. You’ve had more life experience. You should be much further along in this journey. Oh, and by the way, those people with the nice words? They’re just being nice.”
I squished him between the covers of One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No Regret Life and Dorie, the Girl Nobody Loved.
I hate that guy.
It’s not that I’m not happy for my friends. I am. Honest, I am.
I think I’m afraid.
Afraid that I might never realize my dreams in the time I have left, afraid others will use up my ideas.
Angry at myself for dragging my feet and procrastinating all these years, for not maintaining discipline and order, for not arranging a consistent writing schedule, for falling prey to perfectionism.
The older I get, the more I realize that when I’m out of sorts with someone, even jealous, it’s usually reflective of how I feel about myself at that moment. Lamott’s therapist told her that “jealousy is a secondary emotion, that it is born out of feeling excluded and deprived, and that if I worked on those age-old feelings, I would probably break through the jealousy. I tried to get her to give me a prescription for Prozac . . .”
Yes, I know all things happen according to God’s plan and in His timing and that nothing can muck that up. I know His plan and timing for me is not the same as anybody else’s. But still…
I have to remember how much He loves me (us), how He never leaves us and never leaves us out, and how He wants to love others through us. I have to pray for a tranquil heart which is a good medicine for what ails me. Whether I write another word or not.
I really need to read my friend’s book.
Or maybe I should just put my feet up and watch Duck Dynasty.
Do you ever struggle with jealousy, whether in your writing or some other area of your life? How do you deal with that green guy?
Note: I’m taking this awesome class through Tweetspeak Poetry on The Writing Life. This week’s assignment was to write about jealousy and how it impacts our writing life. Sigh…
A good, honest reminder for all of us, Sandy. Lord knows I’ve batteled jealousy time and time again. I am constantly guarding my heart against this, because really, it is poison. Nothing kills my creativity and joy faster than being envious of others. Bless you, sweet friend!!
That comparison thing. We so need to stop it. At least when we compare ourselves to others. Our plumb line is Jesus/Word. Empty vessels, we… so He can pour His creativity through us. Just look at the variety in nature. Why would He stop with us?
This was a great read, and a great reminder that God DOES have a plan for all of us. My battle with the green eyed monster has been a long one. As I get older I’m more secure with myself and the path God has chosen for me.
…It’s still nice to be reminded.
Thank you for sharing!
Yes, that monster often rears his ugly head when we are not secure enough in who we are in the body and with who God made us to be as individual masterpieces. I sometimes feel like I’ve thrown hot salsa on His plan… but need to be reminded that He knew I’d do that and that He ultimately works it all into a grand design.
Brave girl! Except for the salsa I can relate. I usually share a bowl of M & M’s with that devil sitting on my shoulder…ok not really, but still, you tackle so well, with open arms and bring light to the voices the enemy whispers. Amen to squishing the voice that allows us to believe God is not gracious enough to steward well, that which He gifts is His own. Thank you- so glad I caught this in the feeds today!
M&M’s? I’m so up for those! But only if they’re unadulterated originals. I’m so glad you came by today, Dawn. And yes, I think we sometimes spend too much time hiding in the shadows. The light appears when we step into it.
yes, this, far often. and I must admit, I am jealous of all the classes you get to partake in that I and Rick and God knows we can’t afford…
thanks for the open window into your heart
Sigh… But you’re coming to Laity Lodge. And you’re going to Uganda! Green. 🙂
Malawi, actually. But yes 😉
and yes to the Frio in November
Whatever. I’m still green. 😉
Wait until you see that green river! And the Blue Hole.
Oh yes…..he shows up very often and I have to get that jalapeno fire sauce handy as well. I feel so bad because I was smiling all through this post and I really don’t think that was your intent, and yet those feelings were so familiar it was like you have peered into my own heart! I guess there is a reason there are so many Scriptures that deal with jealousy. Good job with this, and adding Anne Lamott? Perfect.
I’m glad you smiled. I hoped you would. 🙂
And I really need to add? That after reading your profile again….you live on 50 acres (GREEN) and you live in an old farmhouse (GREEN, GREEN) Now I have to kick that guy off my shoulder, again!
Oh, Lori. The land is nice, especially since we rent it out for someone else to farm. But my husband threw himself down in the back yard the other day and announced he was getting too old to take care of it all. And this farmhouse? It’s a time and money pit. I think we so often forget the grass is not always greener. 😉
Shawn Smucker once suggested to me that every time I feel the twang of envy or jealousy (which I do like, a bajillion times a day), I should immediate tweet or FB or comment on someone else’s achievements – promote someone else. A gesture of goodwill takes the wind right out of envy’s sails, he said. You know what? It totally works. I do it all the time.
Great, honest post, Sandy. We all need to hear this and know we don’t suffer alone.
Thank you, Michelle. And Shawn. Super awesome, powerful medicine!
So . . . Now I’ll KNOW when the jealousy bug has bitten?? This is a great idea and one I’ve actually tried to practice. You’re right, it does help.
So now every time we pass several forward, we’ll wonder… 😉
Love this the 2nd time round, too. :>)
This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you.
Oh, I’m so glad, Emily. Thanks for coming by.
Exactly what I’m struggling through. Susie sent this to me to read, b/c she knows what I’ve been going through for many years, re: writing, publishing, acting, directing, on and on and on… and how I feel that I have been dumped aside. My husband recently said that even if one person reads the handwritten/computer-oriented books, stories, I’ve written, and the Lord’s seed is planted in that heart, that’s what should count. I sometimes think of myself as how one of those main artists, van Gogh, committed suicide b/c his paintings weren’t being sold, yet. Now… they are all around the world, and he is gone. That’s a good reminder for me to just do what I can and trust the Lord with the results. Thank you so much!
I don’t know that much about van Gogh, so I read some of a loooong history on Wikipedia. I ran across this quote attributed to him:
Van Gogh aspired to become an artist in God’s service, stating: “…to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture.”
Isn’t that what we’re trying to do–point to God?
A few months back, the THC book club discussed Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor. In it, he tells about a story Tolkien wrote (based on a dream) called Leaf by Niggle. I wrote a reflection here.
“Somehow,” Keller promises, “people will taste the fruit of the project you are working on right now.”
That gives me hope.
Here’s a link to the whole story:
And one more thing. You are sowing so many seeds, Joanne, with your life, with your words, and with your photos. And your husband is right. We should all take his words to heart.
One thing that’s interesting about the whole blogging world is that it presents so many new opportunities for jealousy. 🙁 Just a few years ago it didn’t even exist; there was nothing to envy. But now. I guess it just proves that it’s our heart that’s got the problem, not the medium.
Thanks for this authentic look at what many of us deal with, including me. I definitely need the covering of grace!
“Our heart’s the problem.” Oh, isn’t this at the root of so many issues? How we need grace!
Been there, done that! It’s a killer to the soul, for sure. Is it any wonder that “Thou shalt not covet” is one of the big 10?
Blessings, Sandy! Oh, and you CAN write that book! 🙂
One of the big 10. No kidding, Martha. I think jealousy was birthed with Cain and Abel. Or was hidden in an apple seed.
And thanks for the encouragement, friend. 🙂
“using it as material”… 🙂 just so you know there is plenty here and over there at the blog I linked from to cause some greeny-ness to grow. If I said otherwise, my nose would be growing too.
Ha! Chances are my nose is longer than yours. I do love how Anne suggests using this issues as material. Somehow getting real and sharing seems to diminish their effect.
You are brave to expose your heart and struggle, but look how it opens people up? This is a real issue that we can deal with spiritually by at first recognizing it. Your personification of the green guy gives us something to visualize when we start entertaining these jealous thoughts. I’m glad you were able to share this with the Bible Dude readers, because it’s nice to know we aren’t alone.
I would not have thought (or dared) to put all this in words if you hadn’t given us that assignment, Ann. But the green guy (and other guys) lose their power when we recognize their presence and share the struggle, don’t you think? And it helps to be able to laugh at oneself, too. 🙂
Yes, ma’am. I do struggle with this. In fact, I’m writing a post right now entitled “The day I admitted I’m jealous of Ann Voskamp.” How’s that for ugly?
Also working on a post called, “Why it sucks to be a writer.”
I’m struggling, in case you can’t tell. 🙂 Nice to know I’m not alone.
Oh Brenda, I want to read that when you post it! I’ll watch for it. Better yet, if you could remember to tag me…
P.S. I’m jealous of her, too. Shhh…. (But she is lovely (in)RL)
Beautifully told here. With truth and passion. It is a gift journeying through blogging and the Tweetspeak Poetry Workshop with you. You are a gift. The real deal. Thank you for bringing the green guy out where we can all begin to ‘deal” with him accordingly. 🙂
It’s a gift to travel with you, too, Elizabeth. Do you suppose anything good would come out of making a pinata out of the green guy?