I have something that is eating me inside.
How does one deal with jealously when friends and enemies option/sell their script?
In my circle of writer friends this jealousy thing is getting ugly….
People are saying bad things and” beating” each other on blog forums.
Jealousy, its so difficult to control…
Is this part of the human condition as writers?
How does one deal with it?
Signed, Jealous in Jakarta
Ah, jealousy among writers. I know it well. Believe me, I’ve felt that green-eyed monster rise up with me more than once, and I’ve seen it affect writers I know personally and infect anonymous writers online. It is a terrible feeling to have and it is a terrible feeling to have directed at you. Why can’t we all get along?!
Jealousy is a naturally occuring side effect of having a scarcity mentality – if YOU have experienced a success, that must mean there’s less success to go around for me! You got the last one! It’s Lord Of The Flies! Gimme that coconut or I will smite the crap out of you!!
Jealousy raises terrible questions. Am I talented? Am I important? Am I sexy? Will I succeed? If SHE got repped at a great agent, does that make me lesser? If HE sold a script, does that mean I no longer can hang out on this message board and be taken seriously? If SHE won that competition, is she a better writer than I? Why do I suddenly feel stupid and inadequate? Have I been wasting my time writing all these years? Boil, boil, rumble, rumble – and out comes that monster, dead set on defending your ego at all costs.
Jealousy knows no boundaries and takes no sides. If my friend gets married, I fear maybe there’s less love in this world for me. If you buy a new car, I worry that I won’t be able to do the same and my car will break down. If my cousin gets a dream job promotion, I get scared I’ll never get out of my crappy job, which I hate. And because we humans will do just about anything to avoid feeling bad, we turn that fear outward – into bitterness and jealousy. We gossip, we attack, we judge, hell – we’ll juggle fighting weasels with machetes in their paws before we’ll just sit with the terrible feeling that maybe we can’t have what we want or need.
But here’s the thing – you can. Yes, there is enough love, validation and value for each and every person on this planet. What? Love and validation? I’m talking about cold, hard dollars! I’m talking about Beemers and red carpets and golden trophies! Waitta sec, sister, a scarcity mentality is exactly what you should have in the entertainment industry! There are hundreds of thousands of writers trying to break in and only a few dozen slots available – ever. That’s scarcity!
Well – yes. But that’s not the attitude to take. Because I’m not talking about whether or not you will experience “success” as a writer as defined by a sale, option or produced film.
The ugly truth is maybe a fraction of 1% of the readership of this blog will EVER option or sell a script. EVER. That’s the truth. And that’s being generous. But does that mean you are not a “successful” writer? I heartily think not.
Success is taking pride and joy in what you do. Success is the journey, it is the effort, it is your arc as a writer and how that writing adds depth and beauty to your life. Ahhh baloney! A sale is a sale, you new age hippy mama with a macramé butter churn!
Okay. You can define success for yourself. But know ahead of time that defining success by “winning” is a losing proposition. There are plenty of sold writers and highly paid producers and actors in Hollywood who are living up in the hills in their mansions right now who are absolutely miserable, lonely and lost. Sounds great, huh?
If someone has a success – a competition win, an option or a sale – take that as a sign that it can be done. Use the success of others to inspire you to work harder, finish that script, follow that dream. Because bathing in the poisonous stink of jealousy will indeed eat away at you inside. It will corrupt the very creativity that flows in your veins and splashes out onto the page when you write.
Go back to the central nature of why you write. Is it to impress other people online? Is it to show your folks, friends or spouse that the time you spend writing is valuable? No. You write because you can’t not write. You write because you have been seduced by the medium of the cinema and you dream about having your story grace the silver screen. You don’t write for anyone else, you write because writing is an expression of joy, passion and vision. Eff everybody else and their successes. Good for them. Raise your cup of coffee in salute – and get back to your own writing.
So my advice, Jealous in Jakarta, would be to 1) not hang around with angry, bitter, jealous types because their bile will infect you, 2) do not hang around on message boards where these people hang out, and 3) do not fall under the tempting spell of the crazy-nasty-red-hot-gotta-scratch-it urge to be ugly and jealous yourself.
It feels sooooo good for a few minutes. Or maybe even a few days. That script sucked! That writer isn’t really that good at all! That’s not a REAL option! That manager isn’t that great! I heard that producer is a loser from Serbia! Okay. Do you feel any better now? Probably not. You probably feel like your heart is just a couple of sizes too small.
If you feel jealous, take a deep breath and sit with the feeling for a moment. Articulate it. Shit, Bob got an option, and I suddenly worry I’ve been wasting all these years and I’ve GOT to get a real job one of these days and [insert random, stream-of-consciousness worry here]. Okay, those are all valid feelings. So what are you gonna do, quit? Become an angry, bitter, ugly person and throw some coconuts at Bob? Or how about sit your ass back down and get back to work like a pro and maybe make some of your killer spaghetti sauce later?
If someone attacks you and tries to tear you down online, don’t take it personally. It’s truly, truly not about you. Anybody with a computer can sit in the privacy of their very own damp basement and hurl insults anonymously. But remember this – actual, thoughtful, intelligent, reasonable people do not act in this way. Online bullies only exist insofar as you choose to focus your attention on them – they are in the ether – quite literally. And the minute you turn off your computer and walk away, their pointless ranting drifts into nothingness.
Where would you like to choose to put your attention and focus? On all the great things about your writing and your life? Or (irrationally) on how someone else’s success could undermine all that? On online bullies who are lost in a sea of anger and futility? Or on mentors and friends and blogs that inspire you and make you a better person?
When one little fishy swims over the dam, give a cheer because that fish just proved it’s possible. But don’t forget – there’s a big scary lake on the other side of that dam and no guarantees. So don’t idealize success either. It’s all relative – dams, fish, success, happiness. Do what you have to do to be happy and wish others well. That kind of generosity of spirit and fearlessness will come back at you like a boomerang – you just watch.