Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jealousy - the abcedaria of a writer

Jealousy - oh jealousy, the green-eyed monster, that plagues us all. Sure it does! Don't pretend it doesn't or I'll be jealous of you being free from this. Why is is important for a writer to understand this word? Because, my ducky, you're going to feel it and your characters are going to feel it too. You're going to feel it when someone you LOVE and are good friends with gets an award, a publisher, an agent, and you are sitting there with your thumb in your mouth trying to say good and loving things while you burn bright green inside.  You're going to feel it when others, others who don't choose to write or paint or whatever you do that doesn't bring in the bacon, talk about their next trip to Cuba and the deal they got on their tickets because they fly so much, and how boring it is to have lost their cleaning service and what will they do?  Yes, my love, you and I will feel it. We'll feel it when someone else's children get accolades because their mother DID their science project while you, meanly, let your own kids do theirs because you had a phony, self-imposed deadline and so you bailed. And, you whine, that's not why you didn't do it - it's because it's stupid to do your children's work. And you are right but really, that's not why you didn't do it. It's because you are a writer and you'll never get acknowledged, and your phone bill will always be late, and your kids' Halloween costumes will be sad-ass, and your partner will roll his or her eyes when you complain about the publishing business for the gazillionth time.
Yes, my deary deary dearios, you will be jealous. I know.
The good thing about this? Oh yes, there's always a good thing. The good thing is that since you will be well-acquainted with the green-eyed monster - well then, so will your characters. You'll know what you do, how you narrow your eyes to tiny wee slits, or how your voice gets all sugary, or how you brush the hair off your face, when you're in the middle of a big old jealousy attack and you'll be able to draw on that knowledge for your protagonist, your villain and so on. A little word of advice, since we're on the topic: don't save all your nasty habits and ways for your villains - make them part of your protagonist's ways too.
All right. Enough on this nasty topic. Not my fault - I sit down, write the first letter and see what follows it. Just a knack I guess, no need to be jealous!

19 comments:

Siv Maria said...

Ha ha, guess we all have to wip that green-eyed monster into shape!

Niamh said...

sooo jealous of your knack!(eyes narrowing, wide smile, chin rub!)
Enjoyable post, identifying on phone bill and sad ass everything...:)

mooderino said...

Hey Jan,
Great post. I mean for a girl, I suppose it's okay. I could have done it better, but I've been ill.
:P
mood
Moody Writing

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

So true! And good point about letting our protagonists have some of those nasty traits, too.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Excellent write on the same subject I did......even to the Green Eyed Monster. How uncanny.

Yvonne.

Rae said...

I think jealousy propels us to do better, but too much can depress us and stunt our growth as writers. A happy medium of the green stuff is ideal! Great thoughts!

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Jealousy really is a dirty little secret that most of us keep. Yes of course we can be glad and celebrate when friends get awards, pay raises and so on. And I think most of us really honestly are happy for others' success. But that doesn't stop us from also feeling jealous. What a great choice for the letter "J!" Oh, and you're soooo right about characters! No wonder so many fictional murders are motivated by jealousy. Real ones are, too.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, man--I try to avoid it... I give it a little time from time to time, mostly because I'd love to just have the finances to live like I like (which is not FANCY, but i'd love to not always have to worry) and to have more time to write.

I don't get jealous of writing successes because I guess I feel like they take anything from me--peoples successes are independent of each other.

RosieC said...

Jan, you have such a beautiful way of getting the sense of the word out there with your prose. Thanks. This made me laugh--and when I say that, I mean with complete and total understanding! :)

Rosie
East for Green Eyes

fredamans said...

I think everyone has a jealous streak. It's human nature. It's whether you can control the effect jealousy has.

http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/04/j-is-for-jokes.html

dr3am3r said...

I really appreciate each of your blog posts during this A-Z challenge. I'm following a lot of people who are doing it (although I'm not participating) and I feel that you always blog about things that are above and beyond.

Thanks for all of your insights.

Ella said...

I, too try not to go there, but it does happen~ It rears it's ugly head and I feel bad n' sad! Life happens and so does this~

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Haha! You do have a knack. Totally jealous over here!

L'Aussie said...

You make me so jealous with a post like that. Nearly makes me sorry I every met you and followed you. What a smart lady.

Denise<3

L'Aussies Travel A-Z Challenge - J is for Japan

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Need to be satisfied with where we are!

GigglesandGuns said...

You're right of course. Everyone suffers jealousy some time.
If your characters are human they are jealous. And they probably are even if they're not human.

Marjorie said...

It happens to us all. I feel jealous when I see photographers' work that is amazing. and mine feels like crap. I have to really step up my game then. I use jealousy to strive for better. That's the best I can do.

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm so jealous! You're right that unless we feel it, we can't write it well. From me, you have nothing to feel jealous for.

moe said...

You mean I'm not the only one to sit in the corner, chewing on my pancreas while listening to the problems of someone with their boxster and it's low profile tires "just can't tell when they go flat..." or how hard it is to get good cleaning help--here, let me move this pile of papers over (wow, I've been looking for that, now I can finally file my 2006 tax return) so there's a clear spot to bang my head on the table...
Thanks, Jan, I will try to tame the beast and use it in the future. It may even save my teeth from being ground to nubs...
xxoo
moe