Green-Eyed Monster Is a Bitch

Some of you already know—and for those of you who don’t know—I write a weekly blog over at Women & Words. Back in February, I wrote about how my frustration over not being able to succeed in selling a certain nonfiction project led me to hate someone.

This someone has nothing to do with my work (except that she writes in that genre as well) and certainly nothing to do with my failure. I have absolutely no reason to hate her.

Except that she achieved what I wanted.

But why do I hate her and not the so many other writers who also achieved what I wanted? Because I met her and she told me her story. Without going into too many details, she “got lucky” (her words) and got this idea for a book; simultaneously, there was a publisher who was looking for a writer to do a book on that very topic. And just like that, she’d succeeded in getting what I wanted.

I had been riding the proverbial merry-go-round for years, trying to grab the brass ring. But every time I went around and reached for it, it slipped through my fingers. On her very first ride on the damned horse, this person grabbed the ring, and it’s been shining on her finger ever since. She not only sold the project but got a contract for additional books and managed to get on board with one of the top literary agents in the country—the one that I so very much wanted to represent me. Three years later, she has several books out and, I’m sure, more in the works.

She’s a perfectly nice person. Sweet, actually. And she even tried to “help” me by introducing me to her agent. I swallowed the humiliation of a younger newbie “helping” me after I’d been working at this for years and took hope that my willingness to be humbled would pay off. It didn’t.

And so, with each book of hers that comes out, each cool thing I see about her on Facebook, makes me hate her a little more.

It’s completely irrational and unfair to this other writer. And detrimental to me. It’s not good going through life hating people, especially those who don’t really deserve your hatred. It’s psychically damaging, and on a more practical level, it just doesn’t help.

The reason this has come up for me again is because two people in my department —TWO—just got offered positions elsewhere, and job hunting is another hot-button issue for me. It’s another area of my life that simply won’t go the way I want it to.

I decided that after years and years of bending over backwards and flipping cartwheels trying to achieve the things I want to achieve, there are some things I just can’t control. I think luck and/or destiny is involved. People who are successful advise others to “follow your heart,” to “do what you love, the money will follow,” and if you work hard enough, you can achieve the things you want. Well, it’s easy for them to say all of this because they got what they wanted. And, while I would never diminish the hard work that they put in and the dues they paid, I believe that they were also lucky.

How else would you explain why two people who work equally hard and, all things being equal, one succeeds and the other one doesn’t? Doesn’t luck have to play a part in this? Think of all the artists out there (actors, writers, painters, etc.) who bust their asses and never make it.

Luck is not something you can force, or find, or buy. You either have it or you don’t. Therefore, there’s no sense in sweating it.

I’ve decided that I will just continue doing what I enjoy doing because I want to do them. That’s the only reason worth doing them, anyway. “Success” will come or not, but being the captain of one’s ship requires someone liking you enough to give you a promotion.

Unless, of course, you’re a pirate. Then you just take it. 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Green-Eyed Monster Is a Bitch

  1. YARGH!!!!!! 😀

    Everybody goes through this. And no, it’s not productive to be all cranky and hatey toward people who succeed at something we’ve been busting our asses for. But it sure isn’t easy to turn off, either. Sigh.

  2. I know what you mean. In my day job there have been countless younger and newer junior managers that have been promoted up and around me, while I, the more experienced one have stayed in position. It can at times be galling and last year I did give into the hatey thing. A younger woman got promoted to a store I had worked at before and frankly didn’t like. Did that matter? No. Because she was being given an opportunity and I wasn’t -but she was also lording it over me and that just pissed me off. Also, the way she treats her co-workers and subordinates is just flat out wrong. I’m pretty good at going with the flow but in this case I didn’t react well (sorry to say).

    Recently I got to travel to another location with the promise of promotion (hurray-finally, right?) No. It was a lateral with some pretty extenuating circumstances and I found myself miserable and wanting to go back to my original location. I toughed it out. Change is hard. You adapt and you move on. Only it didn’t happen that way. Through movement in the city I was able to get my old position back and have never been happier. I had to do some hard searching at myself though. Did it matter that I was probably not going to move up now that I had returned to my previous store? That twisted me up a bit. Yes and no…

    For the last three years I have put my heart and soul into writing whenever not working at the day job. It has meant significant sacrifice of time, talent and in some cases money that needed to be spent on a new computer when the old one died. I dream of one day writing full time. You know how you said you hated that person cause they had what you wanted? Sometimes I catch myself doing that when I know someone is able to do what I’ve only pined for. Life, like writing, is a growing work in progress and I’ve had to keep reminding myself of that fact. We are our own worst critics and it is so easy to measure ourselves by someone else’s yardstick. (Or our own after we beat ourselves with it.)This year I’ve made some hard choices. In addition to realizing that writing is my career goal and the other is a way to put food on the table until that happens, I have come to understand we all have our own paths to follow. Mine just happens to be right here in front of this computer.

    So…I understand what you mean more than you know.

    Best always,

    Erzabet

  3. Thanks for saying what we’ve all been feeling, too, at some point. I like Erzabet’s view: Writing is the career goal; the other is a way to put food on the table. I’ll assume we’ve all read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. When she wrote about this, it was a light-bulb moment for me. It’s a demon of every writer, I’ll bet. That made me feel better. My weakness is that some writers have three or four books out while I’m still waiting for my first (and not writing the second, I should add). I’ve heard that authors don’t really break through the clutter till they have several books out–some readers won’t even try them with just one. That pretty much dooms me to obscurity. So I try to remember why I write, which at the moment is escaping me, and just do it. Thankfully, I don’t need it to put food on the table. On the hard days, I stay away from Facebook. 😉

    1. Oh, Elaine. I feel your pain. I, too, have only one novel out (and a novella). While I have numerous short stories and anthologies that I co-edited out, I struggle to get longer works done. My therapist suggested blocking those people who irritate me with their posts. Maybe this would help you. You don’t have to unfriend them–just block their posts from your timeline. That way, you don’t have to see that so-and-so just completed her 32nd novel.

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