Coping With The Elephant in The Room: Jealousy, Pettiness, and the Everyday Writer


“Jealousy… is a mental cancer.”


  • B.C. Forbes


Last year at a small event, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable, the pressing of the invisible elephant-in-the-room push against my body, sipping soda and making half smiles as I listened to conversations. I could have spoken more, but listening to people bash other writers, some who are on literary magazines, seemed like a low blow to individuals trying to make a career out of writing. Plus, the mood was the same cliche English department snobs you find in college, and that behavior irks me. I won’t deny I can be a narcissist sometimes, or a complete whack job when writing or being tormented by a story, but I’ve grown much more in terms of looking at other people’s work. And, of course, how I measure it up to my own. The first lesson to this is not measuring it up at all. We all have our own styles, and just because you are confronted by a different kind or one you find more appealing, doesn’t equal your own work is better or worse.


If, in fact, the story line is a car wreck on paper, unless you’re their personal editor, what do you achieve by bringing it up in conversation? For the purpose to inflate your own ego in public is a poor judgement call and there is a difference between having an opinion and being a literary snob. Seriously, unless you’re an editor, a critic, perhaps talking about your own work and inspirations might have a more positive impact on how you write or converse with other writers. Your small circle of haters is fine but in public you sound like a jealous asshole. #truth


Coping with Jealousy

  • Identify how you feel about your writing and know its ok to feel insecure. The best artists question themselves.
  • Ask yourself why a particular piece or writer has come on your attack radar and turn off the missile and appreciate the work for what it is or express that it isn’t for you.
  • Listen to what people are saying in your group and ask yourself if it’s insecurity talking or valid points being made – if the first, you may be caught in a hornet’s nest of a group with nothing but stingers and insults. And, honestly, how can you gather inspiration with individuals so insecure they feel the need to bring others down?
  • Don’t forget about the struggle — we all go through it: missed deadlines, plot issues, shitty dialogue, writer’s block, lack of sleep and anxiety attacks. Why should you shame someone else for going through the same issues you have? Why take away their recognition?
  • Skip being critical and talk about what you love about your own work and ask about others. Give useful feedback and give them confidence, even if the style of work is not your forte. You might find yourself with more inspiration in your own work and what you may have not caught before or appreciated before.
  • If anything, it puts you in a good mood.
  • Know that, in a public setting, such as an event where you are meeting new people, your envy and negativity is noticeable and it doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, so cut it out.


Some reasons why you feel this way and impose it on others:

  • You believe the person lacks the same creativity or skill you have, or believe the opposite, that your skills are below theirs or you have yet to achieve as much as your fellow writers.
  • You had some poor writing role models in your life or through education that instilled bad judgement behavior.
  • You’re so insecure you’ve begun to inflate your ego to the point you can start giving hot air balloon rides and it’s too late to quit. Hope you’re charging a good price.





So why did I write this?

When I left this event, I was hoping never to run into these people again and didn’t at all feel like my work wasn’t good, because the conversation was in one direction and, from the faces of other guests, it was awkward. I’m not the type who says ‘everyone get’s a trophy,’ but more the type of seeing envy as a fear from your own creation that isn’t needed, nor wanted, to be heard. Don’t create that elephant and make every room you enter feel as if the air has been sucked out due to you’re insecurity because, guess what? We are all insecure.

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