Dealing with the Jealousies

| Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Today's Tune: Little Talks

Unless you haven't been paying attention to the last week of publishing news AT ALL, you will know that Lena Dunham recently sold an advice book for $3.5 million. Something about being a 20-something in NYC and dealing with the trials of dating and internships and figuring out your life path. Yes, that's right. One non-fiction book, 3.5 MILLION DOLLARS.

If you're even remotely human and capable of suffering emotions such as jealousy, then I'm sure hearing this news (and other similar stories) sends many thoughts reeling through your head. That's not fair! Ugh, HER? I don't even know who that is! They spent that much money on WHAT? THIS is what they're taking a huge financial risk on?

They're willing to throw literally millions of dollars at this person, but they won't even spare a measly pittance of an advance for my manuscript?

It's okay. Let those thoughts out. Let them leech like poison out of your ears and eyes and mouth. Let them hurt.

And then let them go.

When stories like this happen, it's super easy to let them latch onto your heart and start threading all kinds of negativity and resentment through your blood; sometimes founded, sometimes not. Especially when you've been struggling to let one of your little stories see the light of day for a long time. It's easy to assume that when this much money is being thrown around, it means that there's less money, less time, less space for your book. It's easy to project and think "because they decided to go with this book, mine's getting passed over."

I know. Those thoughts have crept into my head, too. Even though logically I know better, sometimes I can't help but want to scream WHAT THE F*#& into my pillow over and over. When you want something really, really badly and you worked hard for it and it's just not... quite... THERE... sometimes it just GETS to you. It combines into a slimy monster of stress and sadness that hangs out in your chest and makes you want to be snarky and upset all the time.

But you have to let it go.

It's tempting to cling to it like a protective blanket. You can blame everything on it and throw chunks of it at the people who have what you want but (in your opinion) don't deserve it as much as you. It's an ugly, burdensome demon, and it makes you not very pleasant to be around. Plus it smells funny.

I'm giving us all permission to be jealous and sad for a little while. It's okay. It happens to the best of us. There's nothing more human than striving and struggling toward the next peak of your journey, and feeling crushed when you miss the mark. The trick is not to look at the people on different peaks and throw snowballs at them while you scowl and go nowhere.

Yes, celebrities and politicians and randoms and whoever else will be seemingly plucked out of nowhere and handed a big wad of cash along with their shiny book deal. That will always happen. But publishers don't stop buying other books or looking for new talent just because they made a big deal with someone else. This sort of thing is not a this-or-that situation. No one is going to publish another celebrity wank memoir in place of your staggering work of genius. They can and do publish both. And when that green monster threatens to take up residence like a bad cold, flush it out with a few good reminders.

This is a tough business. No one promised you this would be easy, or fast, or perfect. But I tend to believe that for the people who come so close, it's only a matter of time until it's you in the publishing announcements.

How do you guys deal with The Jelousies?



{ Rachel } at: October 10, 2012 at 8:27 AM said...

I cry.

I LOL but so true... I do. I cry.

{ prerna pickett } at: October 10, 2012 at 9:14 AM said...

so true... thanks for this post.

{ Mel Chesley } at: October 10, 2012 at 10:39 AM said...

Wow. That's a lot of cash to just toss at someone for writing something most writers would view as 'silly'. But, hey, they found a niche, wrote their book and it will probably be the only one they write. Can you imagine them in 20 years saying, "Yeah. I wrote 'such and such' and made it big." "You wrote what?"
Our writings, they're legacies in and of themselves. They have longer shelf lives and people will still know us in 20 years. ;)

{ Kristan Hoffman } at: October 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM said...

So, I do feel the jealousies, and the indignations, and all that ugly stuff. I do, and it sucks, and it's hard.

But honestly? I respect Lena. She's a writer first and foremost. She's not a model, or a reality TV star, or a singer, or an athlete, who was given a book deal to capitalize on her fame. She is a WRITER. And for that, I respect and cheer her on.

(Other people? Not so much. >P)

{ S.E. Sinkhorn } at: October 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM said...

I honestly know very little about her beyond the fact that she's a television writer! Also, just for the record, these were hypothetical exaggerated writer thoughts, not necessarily my personal thoughts ;)

{ Yael } at: October 12, 2012 at 3:03 PM said...

Funny, because I DON'T get jealous by celebrity book deals. Usually, I'm just laughing to myself and thinking "Hey, it's not MY $3.5 million dollars that goes down the drain if it tanks."

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