Discard Your Hair Shirts: Writers and Professional Jealousy

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You’ve already seen this is you’re part of my Patreon, but here it is for everyone else.

It’s pretty common lately to see writers telling each other to stop being jealous of other writers’ achievements. “Don’t pay attention to them; pay attention to yourself.” is the common wisdom.

Now, I’m not going to argue that people shouldn’t focus on the things they can control; that’s solid advice. But just because professional jealousy can be expressed in toxic ways doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to tell people their thoughts and feelings are bad and wrong.

Professional jealousy is perfectly normal.

Everyone feels it from time to time. Everyone has to learn to manage that twinge when they hear about another writer finding a great agent, landing a publishing deal, making a best-seller list, whatever.

That’s the key. Not “Stop doing jealousy.” It’s “Jealousy is normal; how will you deal with it?”

Let’s break it down.

1. You feel jealous of a friend’s success

* Let’s say a friend has reached some milestone in their career that eludes you, and you’re burning with jealousy. What should you do?
* Do not tell your friend you are jealous. Your emotional responses are for you to deal with. It’s not your friend’s job to manage it.
* Acknowledge your jealousy. If their milestone is not a goal you are aiming for, try to shrug it off. If they’ve reached a milestone that you hope to reach someday, tell yourself you will work harder and smarter so you can maybe manage it, too.
* Then let your jealousy go. Experience it, but don’t hold on.
* Congratulate your friend. Something good has happened to them, and you should acknowledge that sincerely without making it about you.
* Talk to a neutral third party if you can not let your jealous go. Say the words “I’m happy for [friend] but it hurts that I can not manage to do the same.” With luck, your neutral third party will commiserate and you’ll feel better.
* It doesn’t have to be fair. Your friend’s success might be due to hard work and clever marketing on their part, but then again, maybe not. Life isn’t fair. But that’s not your friend’s fault, so don’t burden them with it. Just keep writing.

2. You feel jealous of a stranger’s success.

* Do not tell the stranger you are jealous. That’s weird.
* Acknowledge your jealousy. We all have milestones we want to achieve, and it hurts to fall short. That’s natural.
* Let it go. If you can’t, talk to a neutral third party. Say the same words as above.
* It doesn’t matter if it’s unfair. It doesn’t matter if you think the successful stranger’s work is trite, stuff, precious, derivative, or whatever. It doesn’t matter if you think they suck.

3. You can’t let go.

If you get to the point that you can’t interact politely with your friends and colleagues because of your jealousy, you should find someone qualified to help. It’s no different from any emotion that causes you to act inappropriately.

4. You can use jealousy constructively.

No, really. It’s possible, despite the way some people talk about it. We can use it to goad ourselves into working harder, or daring to try risky things. It can also spur us to venture into new areas, like self-marketing or online crit groups or who knows what.

But what we can’t do is use jealousy to squelch the perfectly natural urge to judge our success by the successes of those around us, or to see their success as a target we would like to reach someday.

So stop telling people not to be jealous.

It doesn’t work anyway, because humans have emotions and emotions can’t be reasoned with. It’s not even a bad emotion. It just sometimes spurs bad behavior.

Better to use your jealousy as motivation.

And yeah, I get jealous all the time. I just don’t make a big deal of it.

Randomness for 10/17

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1) Portugal’s Example: What Happened After It Decriminalized All Drugs, From Weed to Heroin.

2) The Man Who Invented Bookselling As We Know It.

3) Self-Destructive Beverages: a Guide.

4) Creating unconscious emotional responses with shapes. Video.

5) This house could be yours (if you’re looking for a shrine to terrible awful horrifying bad taste).

6) Carrie Fisher’s Legacy as a Script Doctor.

7) How to be Persuasive: Seven Secrets of a Hostage Negotiator

Randomness for 9/25

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1) This history of modern bacon packaging includes a sales video of a modern bacon slicing machine that I found very soothing.

2) This cat is way into Hitchcock. Video.

3) Check out this ONE TRICK that a bicycle shipper used to cut delivery damage by 70% (they printed TVs on the boxes)

4) “I’m a judge and I think criminal court is horrifying.”

5) The “Spiciest Tortilla Chip in the World” is Sold One Chip Per Package.

6) The Woman who is Allergic to Water.

7) Teen Creates App So Bullied Kids Don’t Have to Eat Alone.

Randomness for 9/9

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1) Guy writes ridiculous requests in the “Special Instructions” space of his hotel reservation, and gets what he asked for. I hope he leave fat tips.

2) Woman Sues After Police Destroy Her Home During 10-Hour Standoff With The Family Dog.

3) An action figure for “Bulba Fett”.

4) Like Tanith Lee? Live/want to live in the UK? Her house is for sale. I wish I were successful enough for a beautiful house.

5) This longread is AMAZING: How parents of an elementary school child tried to frame a PTA mom for a crime she didn’t commit. Wow. For a crime/mystery reader like myself, this is wild. And it could have gone the other way so easily.

6) I’m a judge and I think criminal court is horrifying.

7) How to tell a mother her child is dead.

Randomness for 8/5

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1) “The Most Satisfying Video in the World.” Video

2) Climate change releases Siberian anthrax from melting permafrost. 1500 reindeer dead.

3) Getty Images sends woman demand for payment for her own photo. She sues them for one billion dollars.

4) Japanese sword master tests his skills against an industrial robot.

5) Ten Unusual Libraries Around the World.

6) How Jack Reacher should be traveling the country: a DIY airstream camper light enough to be towed by a bicycle.

7) Test flight held for small jet modeled after Miyazaki anime.

Randomness for 7/24

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1) The late great Jim Henson gives a puppeteering masterclass. Video.

2) Inside Portland’s Mystery Hole. #NotPorn

3) Exploding glass filmedin 343,000 fps slo-mo. Toward the end, this gets to be like the drug effects in DREDD.

4) A split screen comparing Los Angeles of the 1940’s with Los Angeles now. Video.

5) What type of low-budget films break out?

6) LA earthquake creates a seiche, a (potentially destructive) wave frequency that amplifies waves and ripples. Video.

7) Police 3D print a murder victim’s finger to unlock his phone.

Randomness for 7/10

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1) ‘You are a coward’: Hate and misperceptions about substance abuse are broader than I thought

2) Gorgeous cars of the art deco era.

3) This pedal-powered roller coaster gets a massive NOPE.

4) Terrible manager stories.

5) How God Created Animals. <-- Funny 6) Investigative reporter goes undercover in N Korea to find out the truth about life there, writes book, sees book listed as a “memoir” because the reporter is a woman.

7) If you thought the movie WARCRAFT tanked, you missed the part where it changed the way blockbuster movies are made.

Randomness for 6/21

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1) An end to showering Apparently, the problem with smelly guys at cons is not that they don’t shower enough. It’s that they shower at all.

2) Drug or Tolkien elf? A quiz. I scored 23 out of 30, which is better than I expected.

3) 17 completed webcomics you can read from beginning to end.

4) AMC threatens to sue fansite over posted spoilers.

5) The defeat of the Confederacy should be a national holiday.

6) Funeral business dissolves the dead, pours them into town sewers.

7) The second-most-useful site on the internet.

Repeal The Second Amendment

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A few days ago, I tweeted this:

Followed by:

Note: repealing the second amendment doesn’t necessarily mean confiscating everyone’s guns. Other nations have guns in private hands without having an undeniable right to them. The only effect of the second amendment, as least as the most recent Supreme Court decision would have it, is to prevent us from regulating them. As the last few years have proven, regulation is desperately needed. If the second amendment is in the way of that, it needs to go.

I also tweeted out this:

Because I keep seeing people get caught up in counterproductive arguements. WHAT ABOUT THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST or BAN [SPECIFIC GUN] are easy to type on the internet, but it’s a bullshit way to conduct public pressure for legislative change. The Terrorist Watch List should be no one’s go-to policy choice, at least until the government is willing to be clear about how people get on it, and until they work out a system that will let people get their names taken off.

And arguing about this or that specific gun/type of gun is a mug’s game. People who oppose gun control love this argument, because it becomes all about semantics and petty details. What counts as an “assault” rifle? What about this or that type of gun? And then, every tiny error about terminology or technical specs becomes evidence that no one but the most avid gun fans can’t be trusted to speak knowledgeably about gun control.

Frankly, we already have the evidence we need to show that lots of guns lead to lots of tragic death–all we have to do is look at the rest of the world–but turning the CDC loose on the problem seems to be a necessary prerequisite to getting sensible legislation.

It’s time.

Randomness for 6/14

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1) This is strangely affecting.

2) Should you fuck this rock? Science says no.

3) Cinema audiences reproducibly vary the chemical composition of air during films, by broadcasting scene specific emissions on breath. Another reason for social animals to see movies in a crowded theater.

4) The Trailers for Ghostbusters (2016) and the Art of Editing Comedy by the creator of Every Frame a Painting.

5) The 35-Year-Long Hunt to Find a Fantasy Author’s Hidden Treasure.

6) Traffic-weary homeowners and Waze are at war, again. Guess who’s winning? Filed under: The Future Is Stranger Than We Expected

7) An amazing infographic.