Bonus points if you can remember what commercial the title of this blog post came from because I don’t remember. (Is an ad agency successful if you can remember the tag line but not the product?)
People who’ve read my work often email me asking for advice and recommendations – for example, wanting to know what I would do if I disagreed with an editor’s edits, or how I would handle a problem with a martial arts instructor (since writing and martial arts are the two things I talk about a lot).
I love to hear from readers. I even enjoy hearing from people who disagree with me, as long as they’re not jackasses about it. I’ve had some very fruitful discussions as a result of someone presenting a different point of view in a thoughtful way. (Not in the usual, “You’re an idiot and your writing sucks, too!” way so beloved of anonymous commentators on the internet.)
But occasionally someone will remark that they are jealous of me or that they envy me. Honestly? That just creeps me out. How do I put this? In my experience of what motivates people to irrational, destructive acts that rip apart people’s lives, jealousy is way up there on the list, and I sure as hell don’t want it aimed at me.
So please don’t think it’s a compliment, is what I’m saying. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder how soon I should call 9-1-1.
I’m mindful of the fact that I’m doing work that many people would like to do. I know how hard I work and how much time I spend educating myself on relevant issues and doing tasks I don’t love (Schedule C, networking) to support the work I do love (writing books), but I also know that a certain amount of randomness, some luck, is involved in anyone’s success, including my own. So I know I’m lucky.
But it’s a mistake to think that somehow my life – or anyone’s life – is magical because I’m a writer (or they’re a movie star or a robber baron or whatever). There are magical moments in my life (standing outside 375 Hudson Street, knowing I was about to get a publishing deal), but there were magical moments when I worked at the lumber yard (the first time I fell in love).
And it’s tempting to think that once you’ve reached a certain pinnacle, everything will be wonderful. But that’s not true. My beautiful dog Dakota is still dead. My daughter still has an incurable brain disease. I’m still short and plump. I’m still divorced and it still hurts everyone involved.
So before you let jealousy or envy get a foothold in your heart, please let it go. Let it be a reminder that you have goals you want to accomplish, but don’t let it taint your motives.
And please don’t point it at me. Thanks.