Thursday, June 14, 2012

That Green-Eyed Monster

On Tuesday, my awesome writer groupie, Deana Barnhart, had an amazing announcement. After long effort and piles and piles of rejections, she finally landed an agent! Her story is amazing and inspiring and gives so much hope to those of us still treading the path behind her.

Despite the screaming and yelling you know she was doing when she got the news, what she said at the front of her announcement was so sad--but only because she felt she had to say it at all:
I almost didn't want to do this post, because I know how it feels to be the writer who checks in to the blog-o-sphere only to read yet another "I got an agent" story. To be so happy for them while at the same time battling the "why them and not me" thoughts. I know how many hours us writers slave over our words, making them just so, only to get the query door slammed in our face over and over and over again. Believe me, I know.
So, yes, I ALMOST didn't want to do this post.
But I say almost, because while I don't want to seem like I'm rubbing it in, I also want everyone out there trying so hard to get a foot in an agents door, to believe that it IS possible! And that when it does happen, you deserve to be happy about it!
Don't mistake me: I'm not saying Deana did anything wrong, here. In fact, I think I know exactly where she's coming from. So many of my fantasies about getting an agent have been plagued by worries about how my unagented, arguably more deserving friends would react to the news. (Yes, I have an overactive fantasy life. That's why I'm a writer.)

Still, what does it say about our community that we can't assume that everyone will be happy for our good fortune?

What does it say about ME that, well, yeah, some part of me (hastily squashed) was frustrated by Deana's news?

I'm not sure I know the answer, but I do know three things:

  1. It isn't always possible to control how we feel about something.
  2. It IS always possible to control how we react--or at least how we react online, where we can control the delay time needed to pull ourselves together.
  3. If you start out with the wrong feeling, you can change that.
I want to share a thought that, lately, has helped me tremendously whenever the green-eyed monster strikes (which, with my awesome writer friends, happens with increasing frequency). 

[T]here are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed....
Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!
Doesn't that make you feel a little ridiculous? Wouldn't it be awesome if we could just decide to never, ever be envious of anyone ever again?

Anyway, I'm going to go back to planning out what I'm going to say in my own "I have an agent" post. Right after I finish sending off the partial request I got Tuesday (which, truth be told, helped a LOT).

So do you ever have to do battle with the green-eyed monster? Did he spray you with pickle juice?

22 comments:

  1. I read "their success is not my failure" on someone else's post a couple of weeks ago and I can't remember who to attribute it to, but it resonated with me. I love when others succeed because it means there's a chance for me too.

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    1. I know--success is so cool, especially when it's a friend.

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  2. When I see someone else's happy news, I don't feel mad at them. I'm thrilled. It may feed my own feeling of inadequacy, but I agree with Elder Holland: We are not diminished when someone else is added upon.

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  3. I don't think there's anything wrong with that initial, "Why can't it happen to me?" feeling. It doesn't especially mean you think it *shouldn't* have happened to them, and it doesn't mean that the writing community is particularly back-stabby. It just means that frustrated people get frustrated. It's human nature.

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    1. So true. And, really, it should happen to all of us. :D

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  4. I agree with Ru. It only takes a second to overcome the feelings of jealousy and then be very happy for them. Hopefully it spurs you to want to succeed as well.

    Equality should mean we all succeed(or strive for it), not "well, I don't have it, so no one else should either!"

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    1. Mostly because, if no one else got published, WHAT WOULD I READ?

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  5. I think jealousy is a good and very human reaction. It's important to note what you are feeling, why, and then deal with it in an appropriate manner in order to be a good person.

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    1. And now I have to be a good person, too? :P

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  6. I think all of us struggle at times with the green-eyed monster . . . but not in this case! Deana is just so special, I don't know how anyone could NOT be totally happy for her:) I think I feel it more when someone who doesn't deserve it, gets it? Yanno, but then I also feel sorry for that person, b/c they've also lost a lot of friends along the way b/c of the way they acted. Not like I'm speaking from experience *coughs* ~Cheers:)

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    1. No doubt! I met her in real life in May and she's just as nice in person. Totally deserves success.

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  7. I do feel a twinge of envy sometimes, but mostly I feel happy for them because all the authors I know work very hard and none of them are undeserving people.

    I'm always hoping one of my critique partners will come back to me someday and tell me they got an agent and that I helped them get one with my critiques. That would make my day.

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    1. Deana is now my second writer's groupie to get an agent, but I've helped edit other books that have landed agents. Naturally, I'm assuming it's all because of me. :)

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  8. Thanks for sharing those wise words again. I remember hearing them in April and thinking, "This totally applies to writing." But since I've forgotten.

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    1. LOL--I have to teach a lesson on that talk in a little over a week. Of COURSE someone was going to land an agent! :D

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  9. I've had visits from the green-eyed monster before but I have to admit that publish/agent news usually just gets me excited because IT'S POSSIBLE!
    I love to be reminded that it's possible.

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    1. Plus, I LOVE reading those stories. People find agents in the strangest places sometimes.... :)

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  10. Those are words to live by. Your post touched and inspired me:) And btw, I know you're going to get there too because you just keep on keepin' on!!!

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    1. LOL--thanks, Deana. And congrats again!

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  11. I love that talk by Jeffrey R. Holland, and I totally agree. It's funny, when I posted my "how I found my agent" story a few weeks ago, I prefaced it much the same way Deana did. I'm an extra sensitive person and was worried about the other "sensitives" out there. But so far I've only gotten lots of love from the writer community. Anyway...great post, Robin!!

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    1. Congrats, Kathryn! And we really do have an awesome, supportive community. Strange how paranoia can make us forget that. ;)

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  12. I can't be angry at her success since I have yet to try landing an agent. But yeah, my eyes are a little green. ;-)

    -- david j.

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