Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Envy: Writer Style

A few years ago, I leafed through a Better Homes and Garden Magazine and stopped to read an article about a pretty Arts & Crafts home. The home itself was brand new, with tons of square-footage and created with top-of-the-line, enviromentally helpful materials. I smiled, enjoying the pictures of the house, and read the first few paragraphs of the article.

Then a twisting, spewing, ugly fury rose within me. My eyes might have bugged out a little--I don't know, I couldn't see them (*wink, wink*), but I know exactly what turned me into an envious monster.

So-and-so writes books for Harlequin Mills & Boon.

What? What?! She had my job--my dream job! No fair!!

I devoured the article and, with a little too much oomph, tossed the mag on the floor. Okay, I threw the thing. Then, I did what any envious, married wannabe writer does--I complained to my spouse. Look at this. Look! Look! She writes for Harlequin. She's published. She's my age--maybe younger--definitely younger--she's in her twenties! Waaahhh!

Later that night, I felt awful. Why would I begrudge this obviously talented lady her career? What did it have to do with me, after all?

I hate being envious.

The incident still sticks in my brain. Until that point, I had the vague idea that being a published author--through Harlequin no less--was akin to being an actor on a hit sitcom, totally out of the realm of most people's reality. But this woman was real, and she was young, and she was published.

It clarified something important to me. Deep in the crevices of my being, I wanted to be a published author. I would never be content tucking my books into the closet and not seeing them on store shelves.

What's funny to me today is the fact that I did not envy the house. Sure, the home sparkled, had scads of space, and would be on most people's dream house lists, but it didn't matter to me. The woman's profession did.

Have you ever envied a complete stranger for having the profession you want? What turns you into an envious maniac?

Side note: Jody Hedlund launched her brand new website today! If you get a chance, go over and check it out. Her blog is linked from any page in her site, and if you leave a comment, you'll be entered in a drawing to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card! Her site is linked above or you can go directly to

Join me on Friday to make one goal!


  1. I was envious of people knowing what they wanted to be at a young age and actually doing it. I feel like many years were wasted. Trying to appreciate Perfect timing. :O)

  2. Ooh, that is a hard one. Yes I have felt those same pangs. But the more I find my feet the more I can be really happy for what someone else has or is, even if it is exactly what I wanted. I must admit I still struggle a bit if someone younger is doing what I want to do and doing it well.

  3. Oh, I LOVE the honesty that oozes from this blog!

    Sigh. It's been awhile. I do my best to take captive those thoughts and hand 'em off to God.

    But still, jealousy happens!

    Would love you to stop by my place today and wave to my first AUTHOR GUEST!!

    Blessings, dear one!!

  4. Good Morning!

    Diane: I know! I was never like that, unless you count being an artist or an Olympic gymnast. :)

    Tabitha: Envy still hits me occasionally, but never as bad as that day. Boy, it got ugly!

    Patti: Me too. He's the only one who can make them disappear.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Oh yes, I have! I'm a writer/musician and I hear about people who have these successful lives as musicians even when they're very young, and I keep on questioning whether I can even reach that point.

  6. B/c God can turn all things to good, I do remember a time I experienced envy about a writer. I believe God moved it to settle an unstoppable passion inside me. I didn't like being envious, but I liked what God did with it.
    ~ Wendy

  7. Abby: It's really hard to hear about other people rocketing to the top sometimes!

    Wendy: That sums it up! Yes! I can say the same about my experience. And when envy does still hit, I know God will use it for my good.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Envy is just part of us. We all feel it from time to time. Sometimes hard to see others zooming ahead while we plod along., but all things happen for a reason. Important just to keep moving forward.

  9. Oh I think there is a part of everyone who envy's someone who has what they are striving for. Some of us may have it worse than others, but it is there. Definitely. For me, being so new to the writing game helps me KNOW that I am nowhere near ready, so it is easier to swallow. My envy lately has been everyone who is talking about going to ACFW conference! I WANNA GO!!!! lol I'm aiming for next year!!!

  10. Oh yes--but like Wendy said--it has fueled me to try my best and know that if she or he could, perhaps I could too! Envy is bad when it stops us from trying and if all we do is sit around and feel sorry for ourselves--but if it motivates us in a good way--that's great!

  11. Oh, I've absolutely envied people for their profession before! Tina Fey is a recent one - man, I wish I were as funny as she is...AND a writer!

    I heard someone say, "The grass isn't greener over there, it's just the reflection of your face." :)

  12. Oh, you nailed it! Sure I feel that way. Then God reminds me, "You're not her. She's not you. I didn't ask you to write like her. I didn't ask her to write like you."

    That helps, but it's certainly a work-in-progress.

  13. Wonderful post, so transparent.

    I would've done the same thing. :)

  14. Loved the description of your 'envious fit'! You're certainly a great writer, Jill!! I'm looking forward to hearing about the true dream-job God has for you - I know it will be the perfect fit! God bless you really good! :)

  15. CJ: Well said. Keep moving forward. Works every time!

    Sherrinda: I'm not going this year either. Maybe we'll have to have a little blog party for everyone staying home? Then we won't feel so bad!

    Terri: Yeah, if we stew about something, it can corrode our drive. Not pretty!

    Beth: Isn't she amazing? I clipped an article featuring her office for inspiration!

    Rhonda: Welcome! And that's good perspective. I'm writing it down!

    Erica: Oh good, I'm not the only one! :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  16. At the moment, I can't think of a specific example, but I'm sure I have. Certain.

    But it's great that you now KNOW how much you want it. :)

  17. I giggled all the way through this post. Too funny! And as writers, we've all been there, Jill. Waaaahaaaaaa

    But MY TIME WILL COME!!! Waaahaaa

    The spouse always hears my complaining. That's what he's there for. That's why God made him. *wink* *wink*

  18. Oh how many times have I measured myself up to people my own age! Some of them are famous and well off and have glamourous lifestyle. And where is mine I tell you? ;) I have tot trust the one who made us all and hope I accomplish all he has set out for me to do. A little glamour wouldn't hurt either. ;)

  19. Maria: Thanks! I, unfortunately, can write fits of envy with firsthand experience! Not good!

    Janet: Yes, it is. Even good comes out of bad!

    Robyn: Yep! Our spouses are saints for some of the stuff they have to listen to!

    T.Anne: Oh, my life is full of glamour--ha! ha! But that's a rant for another day. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  20. I have felt the envy, too - and not just for those who are published, but for those who work in a historical field (for example, the World War II Museum - DREAM JOB). When I compare my current job to theirs...well, yeah, the envy rises. But I figure God has a reason for me to be in the place I'm at, and I have to trust Him with it all.

  21. Hi Jill -

    The feeling is akin to always catching the bouquet, but never meeting Mr. Right. You're happy for your friend, but want to experience the same joy.

    As we see others succeeding, perhaps we wonder if we have what it takes. I remind myself that God equips those He calls and opens doors for them. It's up to us to take those opportunities and develope the talents He's given us.

    Susan :)

  22. Jill:
    I get a twinge in my heart when I hear of someone getting something published. But, I can no longer call it envy. They might have studied the craft in college through being an English major. One of my friends has written for ove 30 years. She self-pubbed two books. Me? I have to pay my dues and learn more about the craft.

  23. Yeah, I have felt that! For sure! The trick is turning that energy around for good. Easier said than done.

  24. Oh, absolutely. I feel ya, Jill. I've definitely been there. Then I usually step back and pray and take some deep breaths and my skin doesn't look so green anymore. :)

  25. I get envious of everything ALL the time. It's sad really. I'm envious of Jody for her new blog and her big book deal and cool cover. I'm envious of all my friends with agents and I'm envious of other friends who are querying and have written more books than me and get partial and full requests. BUT WHY? I haven't even tried to do all that.

    Sometimes I wonder if it's just a natural thing to do, like blinking or something. I have to stop every now and then and remind myself that I'm actually very HAPPY for everyone's success. Writers should NEVER be against each other. I think, in a way, we're all in it together.

  26. Melissa: I could totally see you working in a World War II museum! Maybe as your life changes, you'll be able to be a docent or something? My husband always tells me I should be a tour guide. I think it will be in my future at some point!

    Susan: Your reply was so eloquent, I felt like I was reading a blog post. Very nicely said. Thanks.

    Quiet Spirit: You're right. And I agree about paying dues and learning the craft. I think I'll always be learning the craft.

    Heather: Yeah! It is, isn't it?

    Katie: That's right. Although Hulk skin tone might suit me? :)

    Michelle: It's normal! We all want to be further along than we are, and when we see others three steps up the path, we wonder if we're doing something wrong, if we're lazy, or if we're meant to stay in the pond while they skip up the hill. You're in good company!

    Reberto: Thanks for the head's up.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  27. Well, um, ahem... yes. In spite of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I sometimes let my ugly flesh win out, and have a baby tantrum. Then I remember that God has plenty of blessings for all His kids, and line up at His throne to say, "Me next, please!"

  28. Sometimes I do let that envy get to me.

    My best friend recently gave me an article written by a bestselling author (in the article she shared her methods for kicking writer's block to the curb). Much like you went through, I considered her age (close to mine), her success (far from mine), and felt green. Jealous, even.

    But it always comes down to realizing our paths and lives are different. If I can keep that perspective, and know that I'm working my own journey, it's better.

    Hugs, Jill.

  29. Yes, I used to get jealous whenever a speaker spoke at a conference. That was the job I wanted most of all. I still would like to do that sometime, but I'm not envious anymore.

  30. Jen: Baby tantrum! That's it exactly! Ha!

    Janna: Good points. It's hard when we're not where we want to be. :)

    Nancy: Funny isn't it, how the things we want most are what we get envious over? For you it's speaking. That's really cool--I hope your dream comes true!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


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