Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Trap of Author Envy

This week's topic made me a little nervous when I read it on the SFF Seven calendar: Have things ever gotten weird between you and another author after publishing?

Of course. They've even gotten weird before publishing. It happens, sadly.

I don't understand envy. Sure, we all have moments of "Man, I wish I was in the *insert beautiful place here* or "Damn, I wish I had an ILLUSTRATED NOVEL like Jay Kristoff." (Yes, I thought that last one just this week.)

But destructive envy? The kind encased in jealousy? The kind that makes us feel slighted because of someone else's success or less-than because we haven't had the same success? That, I don't understand.

Or maybe I do.

As authors, and more so, as friends, we should support each other. And yet, I have often found that I receive more support from total strangers than people I've known throughout my writing journey. It hurts, especially if you've cheered them on, provided encouragement, been there for late-night edits and revisions and querying, shouted their news all across your social media, and yet when your turn arrives...crickets. Why is that? Is it envy-caused? Is it a disconnect as one writer keeps pushing toward their dream and others give up or pause for a time? Who knows. I don't like to label things that I might not understand. But it's tough, and many a writing relationship has ended because of this very thing.

A piece of advice for anyone wanting to avoid the trap of author envy--the bad kind--is to stop viewing yourself in a negative light. Stop focusing on shortcomings. Turn your sights on what you've achieved and then give yourself permission to be proud of those achievements. If an author on Instagram posts about their accomplishments and the initial thought upon seeing this is--They're boasting--realize that this is likely faulty programming. Sometimes, we're conditioned to believe that being proud of ourselves is wrong. How would you speak to your eight-year-old self? Would you encourage them? Tell them to be proud of how far they've come? Or would you tell them they have no right to be proud?

Why does this matter, you ask? Because this faulty programming lowers our sense of contentment with our individual journey. It can, in fact, cultivate envy. If we turn our thoughts around to a positive light and cut ourselves some slack, the envy of another's successes might change into inspiration.

When I see authors killing it in this industry, I'm fully aware that not everything in life is fair. Maybe luck did fall their way. Maybe it didn't. But, also, because I've been around this industry for a decade, I can also say--with much assurance--that creating a writing career is difficult. It takes perseverance, determination, mind-bending creative thinking, study, practice, the ability to face rejection like a badass, and sheer, hard work. 

So if we envy anything, we should envy someone's ability to make shit happen, right? Seeing those attributes in authors and seeing their following successes can be so motivating, if only we let it. 

Remember: No two journeys are the same, and we each hold the power to define what success means for us. Here's hoping that author envy doesn't ensnare you. If anything is going to stand in your way, don't let it be yourself.



You can now add The Witch Collector to your Goodreads list! This is book one in Charissa's upcoming novella trilogy.