Blogger: Mary Keeley
This is the time of year when contests will be won and awards will be announced. A few will get the prize; most will not. Since I am out of the office attending BEA this week, I decided to repost a blog I wrote more than two years ago. I won’t be able to respond to comments, but I look forward to reading what you have to say about your own experiences with professional jealousy and your encouraging words for each other.
Let’s get right to it: at one point or another we’ve all been bitten by that green-eyed monster, otherwise known as professional jealousy. Ever hovering, seeking whom he may devour, he attacks by surprise at an unfortunate moment when defenses are weakened.
On the CBA side of this industry I observe continually that authors, both unpublished and published, truly are thrilled for fellow authors’ successes: winning a writing contest, receiving an award, getting a book contract, or hitting the New York Times bestseller list. But it’s also when you have to arm yourself against the GEM’s venom: jealousy. Left untreated, the bite can take an author to a negative place where creativity and inspiration become paralyzed.
Michael K. Reynolds, author of the Heirs of Ireland series, made this comment, which gets to the heart of the issue:
As writers, the same gift which allows us to write with passion and effectiveness–that is the ability to flow our heart onto pages–makes us even more prone to jealousy. Even as a Christian author, who should know better, it’s something I grapple with all of the time.
If you are yet unpublished, be advised that getting a publishing contract doesn’t immunize you. I decided to ask two well-established authors how they nip professional jealousy at the first hint of an attack.
DiAnn Mills, award-winning author of more than 50 books, including her most recent FBI series, and her book on writing, The Dance of Character and Plot, offered this advice:
When the jealousy demon nips at my heels, I simply have to remind myself that I’m writing for an audience of One, and He doesn’t care how many books I’ve written, awards I’ve earned, or the times I’ve hit the best-seller list. What God wants is obedience to use the gift He’s given me to write the best story possible and to always glorify him in the process, and for me that means the writing, editing, and marketing.
All of us in Christian publishing are quietly nodding our heads as we read DiAnn’s wise words, which describe the proper perspective.
Robin Jones Gunn, author of more than 80 books, with 4.5 million copies sold worldwide, including the Christy Miller series, the Sisterchicks series, and more fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books, goes on to say:
God deals with each of us as individuals. There was only one burning bush. Only one Esther. Only one time when Peter was invited to walk on water. The work that God has for me to do as a writer is going to be different than what He has for any other writer who ever was or ever will be. Should Elizabeth be jealous of Mary because Mary gave birth to Jesus and Elizabeth “only” gave birth to John the Baptist? The best way for me to use the few short years God has given to me on this crazy planet is to focus on Him alone and listen to what He is asking me to do and then obey Him with my whole heart. I am then free to rejoice with other writers on their successes and weep with other writers on their losses because on this journey I have experienced both. And I’m pretty sure the roller coaster will continue. All that will matter in the end is that I held on and was available for God to complete His work in me.
Robin summed it up with following paraphrase of Romans 12:6, from The Message:
So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
The perfect antidote.
When was the last time you were bitten by professional jealousy? Does it get easier or harder for you to fight the bite? How will you put the wisdom offered by these publishing pros to use in your own writing career?
Here’s how to immunize yourself from professional writer jealousy. Click to Tweet.
Wisdom from established authors to guard against professional jealousy. Click to Tweet.