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  1. Birch Anderson

    Birch Anderson Member

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    When Jealousy gets in the Way

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Birch Anderson, Sep 22, 2020.

    For some, it’s all too easy to return to a favorite work by a favorite author and just polish the pedestal on which you’ve placed that author, forgetting that they’re ordinary people facing the same difficulties. I have a habit of punishing myself by reading pieces like that, wishing that I could attain that level of skill and prosy cleverness, and pretending that I’m not envious. I then turn the screws by researching introductions or author’s notes in a vain attempt to find some silver bullet for a modicum of either success or just the urge to continue writing for the night.

    I’m wondering if anyone else thinks like this, and if they’ve managed to wean themselves off this thought and just write without worrying about other, if more accomplished authors.
     
  2. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    The only way to get good is to write. Wishful thinking gets you nowhere. That author didn't get good by wishing either. They earned it. You have to too.
     
  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    It doesn't sound like the OP is talking about wishful thinking--he's talking about that feeling of awe and self-doubt that humans get when they see someone who's so much more accomplished than they are. It's pretty natural, and hard work or the lack of it doesn't immediately enter into the equation one way or the other.

    OP, I think the best way to get out of the envious mindset is to let yourself be inspired by those writers. Their books are amazing--if you've been in a rut, they can lift you out of it and show you what's possible. It can purge you of the distaste for your own efforts and give you more of a joy for what you're doing, as well as new insights. And then what's left? Hard work, like Cephus says.

    I feel like this whenever I hear Guthrie Govan make music on the guitar. I know that I'll never be able to play like him, but it's so inspiring to hear what I consider to be the greatest improvised guitar music of all time, and it kicks me in the ass when I'm feeling disillusioned with practicing or whatever.

     
    John Calligan and J.T. Woody like this.
  4. Birch Anderson

    Birch Anderson Member

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    I'm not exactly sitting on the couch, watching television all night after work. Right now, I'm scouting copyeditors for my manuscript, but the only ones that seem to be available nowadays are the ones too suspicious to trust, or those that're just downright expensive.
     
  5. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    @Cephus is right. You've got to work at it until you're that good. I don't think I've ever felt jealous after reading something great. Reading the good stuff only helps us become better writers. I do believe there is room at the top for everyone, but you have to earn a spot there. I don't think you're lazy. I guess I don't really understand the jealousy. And if you're not writing at the level you want, I doubt a copyeditor is going to help much with that.
     
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  6. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    But that's what jealousy is. It's wishing that you were as good as someone else or that you had something that someone else has without having to work for it. Whether people like it or not, they need to get out and earn what they get. The author in question didn't just come by their skills by magic. They earned it. The OP has to do that too.
     
  7. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    You get what you pay for. You need to be willing to invest in your future success if you want to achieve it.
     

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