If you know any writers, chances are they either fit into two categories: The pretentious, jealous, loner-types, and the totally supportive, collaborative types.
Or maybe every writer is some amalgamation of the two. If I had to make a sweeping generalization, I would agree with the latter statement. I’m constantly walking the line between being jealous and supportive of fellow writers.
When I was at The New School, I developed a theory: the writing community is a lot like High School.
The Fiction writers are the popular kids who won’t look directly at you in the hallways because they idolize Hemingway and anything less than adult fiction is just lesser. The nonfiction/memoir crowd are the Popular Kids Who Care; they’re so not above mingling with the other half, and they’ll probably end up moving to New York City or some other great hipster community and be totally “above” it all. The Poetry kids are the art school-bound hipsters; their pain is deep and so are their pockets…but they’ll never admit to a bourgeois background. And the YA crowd is everyone else; they’ll talk to anyone, befriend anyone, sit with you at the lunch table, even if you’re not on their level, and offer support. They’re the kids who grow up to actually be something.
Yeah, I know it sounds totally lame and one-sided, but I actually wrote that in a notebook one day during my tenure as a grad student. And I can’t help but think that there is some truth to it, even though I’d be the first one to admit that, even as a less-successful member of the YA crowd, my jealousy streak runs long and deep.
When those I know publish their books, I’m OVERJOYED with happiness for them.
When people I know sign to an agency, I’m STOKED. Super stoked. Super.
It’s about 80% happiness, 20% debilitating jealousy.
Is that normal?
I know so many amazingly talented writers who deserve every single ounce of success they’ve achieved and, in my opinion, they deserve way more success.
But while I’m still waiting for my rocket to come in and watching everyone else’s take off, I can’t help but feel small twinges of jealousy every now and again.
That’s totes normal, right?
How do you walk that line, especially when the writing community, at least the one I belong to, and the writers I know, are so extraordinary that each bit of success is deserved?
It’s important to show support. It’s important to be a resource. It’s important to lift other writer’s up; that’s what we do best because if we don’t support each other, who will?
The whole process of writing is a constant, unending journey of discovery. And it’s best travelled with those who support you, and you genuinely support in return.
What’s normal is not letting that jealousy get the best of you, or take hold of you. What’s normal is controlling that jealousy and using that as fuel to be better; take the negative and turn it into something positive.
99% unfiltered happiness and unwavering support.
1% debilitating jealousy.
… that’s the best I can do.