(side note:: it's not just writers; everyone goes through this.)
Authors Sarah J. Maas and Mandy Hubbard have both written incredibly articulate posts about this; (here) and (here) and I thought I'd like to talk/rant about it too.
You know that feeling. When you're puttering around on twitter and your feed is positively glowing with great news from everyone else. When you scroll through blogs you follow, and someone just announced something amazing. When someone gets an agent. When someone sells a six-figure book deal. When someone happily squees over their own cover reveal and proudly displays the fan art they get from adoring readers.
And you're there, in your polar bear pajamas and gray sweatshirt and the empty pot of coffee, half-thinking about your own unpolished manuscript and blatant anonymity...let's just say that your heart dips a little bit. There's a little internal sigh of disappointment.
Every writer feels this, and the words jealousy and envy sound so conniving and evil but most of the time, it's just this one tiny voice in your head that quietly says, "What about me?"
It's the small feeling you get when someone you are friends with suddenly has a writing breakthrough. An author you admire sells another solid book deal and everyone is singing praises.
Here is the thing though: you know they deserve it. They deserve every inkling of their success. Their manuscript is amazing; the author is brilliant and kind and hardworking. But hell, you work hard too and you wonder if the day will ever come when someone talks about YOUR writing and praises your characters.
I would like to call that feeling The Want.
The Want is like a small, baby lizard.Or perhaps a little imp, a species derivative of the Monster (what I like to call my voices of self-doubt). Yes. let's stick with the imp.
It's small and nagging, but if you feed it thought and doubts and worries...you feed it flames and then it turns into the Dragon of Jealousy. Which happens all the time. Unless...
If you stick with the Dragon of Jealousy and feed it more flames and resentment and anger, then the Dragon eventually destroys you and takes over your thoughts, and ends up hurting only you. Trust me. If you don't trust me, trust Sarah J. Maas.
You can't ignore it, just like you can't ignore the Monster.
Here's what you do; you use it.
You turn the envy and use it to fan the flames of your ambition. You take a look at your shelves of all the successful authors you look up to and you think, this is where I will be, and the conviction alone turns into pure motivation. You take the energy of envy and jealousy and turn it into an awesome, "THIS IS SPARTA" drive that will make you an unstoppable force. You vow to yourself that you will work hard, that you will writewritewritewrite until your writing is so good, so solid and beautiful that they have zero chance of rejecting you.
And you snap some reins on the Dragon and race it to victory.
Because there's something fiercely brilliant and freeing about being the underdog and the dreamer. Because at the end of the day, writing is your sport and you love writing and you love books and no one's accomplishments can take that from you.
You hear that?
Use The Want. It is an incredibly, incredibly powerful tool. Take another's success and shape it into your dream and goal.
And in the end, I may still be a completely unknown writer who is sitting in polar bear pajamas and blogging about dragons, but at least I am writing my stories, one word after another and slowly shaping my dreams into reality.
Use The Want.