I was going to do a Reads From Around the Web, but then I visited a few blogs and they were promoting something for money and I got a little bit snippy and angry because the thing they were promoting was dumb and I’d never use it, and I was angry that their blogs were just big old ads, and I was going to say something snarky on twitter about them.
But I didn’t. I checked myself and my feelings and asked WHY it was that I was feeling so bitey and mean and snarky that I would publically lambast probably very nice people who were just trying to make a living. The answer always, always comes down to this: jealousy.
I was so, so jealous. Why didn’t *I* get a few hundred bucks to promote a dumb website I’d never use? Huh huh huh? (Did I just answer my own question there OR WHAT.) Why were THEY the ones who were promoting it? Let me take it a bit further. Sometimes I finish a book and I huff, “Why did this book sell ninety zillion copies and MINE ISN’T EVEN PUBLISHED YET? IT’S ABSOLUTE GARBAGE!” It’s absolute garbage that I paid 9.99 for, so they must be doing *something* right.
It’s all jealousy. I am not actually all that jealous of a person, except when it comes to career stuff. I don’t want other people’s houses or clothes or families or bodies. But do I want their careers? Uh, yeah, sometimes. It makes me full of ridiculous impossible regrets, like, “Why didn’t *I* start a website in 1999?” and “Why didn’t *I* write that smutty book about BDSM?” The answer is obvious: because I didn’t, and because they did. I mean, there are about a frillion other ways to answer that question, too, like, “Uh, you were twenty in 1999 and a total disaster,” and “Do you want to be known for writing a book about BDSM?” but the answer really comes down to: because I didn’t, and they did, and that is the way it is, and that is an extremely good thing.
I have been a disaster for almost my entire life. It’s true. I think I stopped being a total mess when my first son was born, but even then I was not really with it, mentally or physically or emotionally. I’d say I really got with it in…2010? 2011? Yesterday? Something very recent. And I’m still learning, because, hey! Green-eyed monsters overtake me at sudden bursts for absolutely no reason!
It’s not for no reason, though. It’s for insecurity. I want what other people have because I don’t believe it will happen for me. Why not steal someone else’s story or success or way to make a buck? Because I obviously have no clue how to do it myself! No one said this to me. This was just me, thinking about it. The only person I am jealous of is the dream person in my head who made all the right decisions at all the right times. That girl is a robot. She doesn’t exist, and it’s a good thing, because she’d be an absolute horror to hang out with. What can you mock if not your own bad decisions? What is there to write about it if I never colossally screwed myself over time and time again? I am making good material here, being a hot mess. It is for the sake of art!
But, wait, what does that have to do with the title of this post? How does me realizing that I’m only jealous because of insecurity have anything to do with competition? Oh, right, let me get to that. It’s because if someone else in the world does well, it helps me. Well, except Hitler. We can’t include Hitler in the conversation.
Here is what I mean: let’s say one of you reading this right now decides to email my agent with a query letter for your book. Let’s say she reads it and says, “Oh my goodness, I need to represent this RIGHTNOW.” Let’s say that she puts your book to the top of her work list and edits it with you before mine. Let’s say she submits it to the perfect editor and you get a great deal, all before me, even though I was her client first. (This is all hypothetical and has nothing to do with my agent. Just pretend.) My first thought would not be warm congratulations toward you. It would be FROTHING INDIGNATION. I would hate your guts. HATE. I HAD THAT AGENT FIRST AND YOU STOLE MY THUNDER.
That’s right. YOU STOLE MY THUNDER. How dare you! How DARE you!
Then I’d give you a tight smile and say, “Congratulations! Awesome!” and pull out some Belgian chocolates and eat until I passed out.
But wait. Wait. So now you get this awesome book deal from this editor, and all of a sudden, this editor sees my agent in a new light. “You have really good taste, lady,” she says. “You should send me more of your clients’ work.” Oh, hmm, what? And then…she sends my book to the editor. Now let’s say that editor rejects it, and all the rest of the editors do, all the while you’re on the bestseller list of every major publication. I hate you more, and I gain ten pounds eating Belgian chocolates. My book goes unpublished.
My agent is soooper busy because all of a sudden a lot of her clients are getting good deals. Not me. Oh no. NOT ME. I feel forlorn and lost, but I write another book. I edit it with my agent. She submits it around, and because she’s been doing so well, her reputation is even better. My book sells this time. It sells. Because of your success.
Oh. Hmm. Sorry for that righteous indignation, and hey! Thanks!
Obviously, this is just one hypothetical example, but my point is that if someone does well in the blogosphere, it helps all of us. Suddenly people are like, “Hey! Bloggers are kinda talented!” and they start hunting around. Or someone does well in writing BDSM books and suddenly your dusty, smutty manuscript has a chance, you lucky, dirty bird!
So: unless you are Hitler, if you succeed, the world is going to find a way for it to benefit me, and you. I hope you’re not Hitler. Because when it comes down to it, the world is a good place, and it’s always trying for a way for you to succeed. Put away the green eyes of jealousy. We’re all in this together.