Saturday, March 20, 2010


Originally uploaded by Moochin Photoman
A number of years ago, before I'd published any of my work, I formed an Internet 'friendship' with another speculative fiction writer. Not only was she a wonderful author, she was a terrific editor who gave me many insights and useful suggestions. A few months after we'd begun exchanging e-mails, my friend sold her first short story to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine.

I was devastated.

Don't get me wrong. I was very happy for my friend. Her story was , and she deserved to have it sell. But, like I said, at that time, I had not yet published anything. And it wasn't for a lack of trying. So seeing her story printed in one of the best fantasy magazines of its time was a terrible blow to my ego.

Because publishing is such a competitive field, professional jealousy is an occupational hazard. Sometimes it's due to frustration; having other people succeed where we've failed is irritating! At other times, the cause might be what we perceive as limited resources. That is, we tell ourselves that because our friend has published a story (gotten an agent, won an award), there is now one less slice of the pie for us. Or it just may be that when we look at another's success, we see ourselves as failures.

Jealousy terrible thing. It can not only break apart our friendships, it can also destroy us as well. If you are faced with a situation in which you are envying another person's success, take a few minutes and ask yourself:

- Is my friendship more important that my feelings of jealousy?
- Is my jealousy blinding me to my own successes?
- How would I want my friend to treat me if I were successful?
- How much success is enough? Will I ever be satisfied with my accomplishments?

Best selling author, Jennifer Cruise, has a self-test about professional jealousy along with a few great suggestions on how to beat it.

In the case of my friend and me, things didn't turn out the way I expected. Not long after my friend sold her story, I sold one as well. And then I sold another. And another. But my friend, who had been dealing a lot of stress in her family and personal life, stopped writing. After a while, she dropped out of the writing scene altogether.

And that's a shame because she really was a terrific writer.


ElegantSnobbery said...

What an amazing post. I'm unpublished, my writer friends are unpublished... and this is something I've never even considered... but wow, one day, it will be a reality, I'm sure. I only hope I can keep my jealousy in check... and I hope my friend can too!

Sad that your brilliant friend isn't writing any more. Perhaps that will change in a later part of her life. I hope so!

Elle Scott said...

Authors at all levels face this, unfortunately. I know that my eyes have been green more than once! But I've found the best way to deal with it is to value the friendship more than anything else. Best of luck to you and your friends : )

Post a Comment