Monday, December 6, 2010

Writer ENVY: Have you ever suffered from it?

I envy talented writers. Talent in anything -- from dancing to singing to sports to writing to math -- cannot be learned, or taught, but is innate as a singer's voice, or a mathematician's knack for numerical visualization.

Either you got it, or you don't got it.

This weekend I saw a fellow writer, who I will not point out other than to say he is not associated with me on the blogosphere, received a special recognition. It wasn't much, but it reminded me of him, and I re-read one of his pieces and looked him up online and wow... he's not a commercial success (and really, what is commercial success anyway?), but he is wildly talented, and is enjoying some small fruits of that talent.

It's amazing how his mind twists the words into a mangled mess that somehow makes sense. It's like watching a crunk dancer perform ballet, and somehow it ~works~.

I read his stuff and think: I'll never write anything like that. I can't. It's not doable. Not that I even want to try, but still, try as I might, I couldn't write like that.

And I envy him for that talent. I get a little bit jealous that he's out there at all, that there are writers with that amount of talent seeking representation from the same agents, the same publishers, going after the same readers and hanging out in the same bookshops. I get a little bit scared that I have to compete with this guy.

I envy his recognition and want my share of it. I feel stingy and childish for that emotion, but there it is, plain and inexplicable and embarrassing as the nipples on my chest. I don't wish him ill, and I believe his recognition is reasonable and well-garnered, but still...

I know I'm not the only one who suffers from this. You don't have to point them out, or acknowledge them, but don't you have authors you're jealous of, that you envy? I don't mean Stephen King or JK Rawlings, I'm talking about your fellow inmates in pre-pub and small-pub lockup, the ones in the trenches with you right now, today.

I mean, don't you ever read something in a blogfest or on a post and think, Wow, I sure don't want to go head-to-head with that author!

- Eric


Kelly Lyman said...

Yep. I think this every single day. But, these feelings also push me to try harder and to keep learning. Thanks for your honesty!

Stephanie Lorée said...

There will always be someone better than you, and someone lesser. In all aspects, not just writing. Jealousy happens to us all. It's very human, and writers (or at least the good ones, I think) are more in tune with the human condition.

Don't sweat it. As happy as I am for my friends, I am still twinged with jealousy over their book deals, contest wins, or random lines of awesome prose.

(Side note, what happened to your drunk post? I was going to comment, but it appears you deleted it. My INNER SELF wanted to speak NEKID without BACKSPACES...)

Ted Cross said...

I often see elements of other writers' styles that I envy a bit, as they tend to be stronger in areas where I could be better.

Sarah Ahiers said...

i think we all experience envy in some form or another. I think we'd be egotistical maniacs if we didn't every now and then

Charity Bradford said...

I am constantly amazed and a bit awed by the twists some of my blogging buddies come up with. My mind just doesn't see those angles, and yet when I read their stuff I think it's brilliant.

Sometimes, I admire the creativity as much if not more than the actual writing talent.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

What happened to the drunk post??
It's still in my reader.

Actually this post sounds a little drunk too.
I don't believe in "you got it or not". It's BS.
Replace it with "Either you work for it or you don't"
Now sober up!

Matthew MacNish said...

Sure I get envious sometimes, but I try to let it go because there is no reason why we both can't find success. Besides I am talented too, and maybe with enough hard work and practice I can hone my craft until I am as good as they are (probably not, but it helps to hope).

EC said...

Great openness. I'm jealous you wrote about this. : )

I think we all admire what we don't possess, it's different and new, and I also believe in the cyclic nature of things. If we keep plugging away at writing, or any other hobby/ambition, we eventually will get to bask in the limelight too!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Yes. He makes me crazy, more driven, and hopeful all at once. And despite the occasional shade of green...I'm happy to see success for someone I know works so hard for it. =)

Jai Joshi said...

It's natural to feel twinges of jealousy when someone does something amazing. As long as we don't allow those twinges to turn into anything malignant it's ok. Those twinges might even inspire you to work harder, be better, push yourself to do something amazing too.

I often feel inspired when I see someone's talent. Talent turns me on. Love it.


Wine and Words said...

Yes, I do it. I read a blogger and throw in the towel at least twice a week. It's a big friggin pile of towels...cuz I just keep adding to it. I keep writing too, which makes it a rather fruitless exercise :)

If I read a blog that makes me feel like I couldn't write my way out of a paper bag, I stop reading for awhile. Yes....sigh...I am that insecure. I need time to hitch up my jeans and sharpen my pencil. Just me being me.

Melissa said...

I think this is just a natural part of life. EVeryone's always going to feel envious of others success. I think the key is to not get down on yourself or think you are worth any less just because someone else is really talented. It doesn't mean that you aren't talented too.

dolorah said...

Sometimes after a blogfest, and reading the excellent excerpts, I want to put away all my writing and go back to just reading someone else's work. Especially if these talented bloggers write anywhere near my genre.

Oh well; there are less productive hobbies with as little or no chance for fame and glory.

You happen to be one of the writers I envy Eric. I read one of your excerpts and think: shit, why can't I write with that kind of depth. I like to write thriller shorts - but if you're in the contest, I may as well pack up my netbook and move along.

But hey, you could use the competition, Right? So can I. We'll just keep learning new things from each other :)


dolorah said...

Oh hey; I've been looking for that Vol 2 picture. Thanks, I'll go replace the one on my blog.


Eric W. Trant said...

Hey thanks everyone for the comments. I don't always get to comment 1:1, but I read all the posts and I appreciate the thoughts and inputs.

- Eric

Tara said...

Yep. Happens all the time. But, it's good to know one's limitations, too. And stick within those parameters.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good post, Eric. Sure, I've felt that way about brilliant writing and great storytellers...but the writerly talent I envy most is humor. That's when I most often say, "I wish I'd written that."

Nighfala said...

Um, yeah. But mostly I envy their persistence. I feel like such a spineless cretin sometimes.