The worst part is that you are seldom jealous of strangers. If they have a better job/nicer outfit/sexier spouse, you can make rude comments about how they got them and not feel too badly about it. But when somebody you know – maybe are even friends with – gets something that you want, your options are limited because you know the truth. You know how hard your buddy worked and sacrificed to get the prize you had your eye on. And saying differently just makes you sound like a whiner.
Nobody likes a whiner, and nobody sympathizes.
Somebody is always going to be doing better than you. Somebody is always going to be doing worse. So how do you judge how well you’re doing?
Personally, I have a simple answer. I try to judge my successes in a golf-like manner (which is ironic since I’m not a golfer.) That means, I have to compete only against myself. I try to improve from my last score and move ever forward.
I said it was simple, not easy.
I’m on-line friends with a lot of other authors. Some of them can write a 80,000 word novel in 2 weeks. 5000 words a day? No problem. I’m doing great if I can get 5000 words in a week. Some of them code their own websites, or create their own covers and format their own manuscripts for self-publication. Dude, I know how to turn my lap-top on – be impressed. Some of them have had their first book out of the gate be a breakout bestseller – I’m still looking for a moderate success. Hell, I’ll take a small one. And yet I’m still doing better than others.
To be fair, yes, some of them did get hit with a lucky stick and that part I can be jealous of. Anybody would be. Writers have absolutely no control over how an audience will react to their books. That is lightning striking, pure and simple.
The rest of it is under my control and I cannot be jealous of somebody who works their ass off for their success. Well, I could be but that would just be displaying my ignorance. Writers who have a high-tech promotion schedule and who have studied marketing and business earn every dollar they make. Some work 90 hour weeks. I could do that. I could write 5000 words a day; I did it once. It was a very long day. Frankly, I’m not willing to put in that type of time. The effort/reward ratio isn’t there for me. I also don’t have the motivation. If I were going to lose my house in 60 days, you can be sure I’d find the motivation, but right now I’m plodding along and getting proportionate results. So how can I be jealous if I know I could have what they have if I wanted it badly enough? It’s the downside of being a grown-up. You realize you should be thankful that you don’t get what you deserve, because in most cases what you deserve is a frightening thought; you get out what you put in.
In time, my writing speed will inevitably increase. Practice makes perfect. Fortunately, it’s still early days in this full-time gig. I can train myself to write more and for longer periods. And to stay off the internet (man, is it a productivity killer!) Still, I know that if I want to take it to the next level, I have to take it to the next level.
I think I’m getting to that point. I’m really enjoying what I am doing now, but there is another truth. As a writer, I will inevitably grow in what I’m capable of and in what I want to write. It’s a natural progression and I’m looking forward to it. To extend the metaphor, if I want to get take it to the next level, it going to be on like Donkey Kong.