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Fonda Lee @FondaJLee
, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Let's talk about the great green demon that haunts any creative career: professional jealousy. If you're a writer (or artist of any sort) you cannot escape it, but if you have to be careful not to let it eat you alive. (a thread)
Publishing is not fair. It is not a meritocracy. Talent, hard work, and perseverance are all important, but luck and timing and other random factors also play a huge role. Sometimes they seem like fate, like the unknowable will of gods.
I spent 10 years in corporate America before becoming an author. I can't remember ever being jealous of my office coworkers. Sure, some of them had bigger offices and salaries, but I knew *why.* I knew what I needed to do to get there if I wanted to get to where they were.
Artistic fields are not like that. Success, when it comes, seems random and opaque. Why is this book so successful, when others like it aren't? Why did this author get a million dollar deal? And worst of all, sometimes you don't know what *you* need to do to meet your own goals.
Because different things work for different people, you find yourself questioning everything you do. If only I could write as fast as so-and-so. If only I was as good at social media as so-and-so. If only I could write about "important topics" like so-and-so. And it goes on.
Social media makes it exponentially worse. Struggling with your project? Take a break on Twitter and read about the latest movie deal, the latest six-figure deal, the latest NYT bestselling debut! It's terrible for morale... and we all do it.
And sometimes we're friends with those people! We hang out with them online and in person, we celebrate their successes, and we struggle with the green demon. I'm terribly jealous of some of my friends. I'm sure some of my friends are terribly jealous of me. Nature of this field.
I think it's okay to admit we live with the green demon sometimes. The other day my husband found me punching the punching bag in our house, shouting, "Why, why, WHY can't I just be successful like [REDACTED]?" He just shook his head and walked back out of the room.
(I felt better afterward.) The danger is in letting that green demon eat away at your own sense of worth as a creator, to affect your relationships, to suck the joy out of your art. There will *always* be someone more successful than you, or something that feels out of reach.
Rather than pretend it doesn't exist, keep the green demon in a cage in the corner. It's okay to let it out briefly once in a while to read PW articles, gripe to your spouse or friends, admire someone else's signing line. Then back into the cage it goes, so you can get work done.
It's suuuuper hard to train yourself out of the sense of competitiveness and comparison that we're taught to value through school and sports and non-creative work environments. But it's also suuuuper important to artistic and mental well being.
These days, when the green demon snarls, I try to say, "Yes, so-and-so author or such-and-such book is doing better than mine. Am I doing okay, though? Am I putting in the effort? Am I writing what I'd want to write if I was the only author on earth and no one was looking at me?"
Usually, that helps my green demon settle down. YMMV. But when you struggle, know you're not alone; we get it.

(This thread brought to you by an author who spent the weekend painstakingly working on a single scene and then was dumb enough to look at photos from SDCC in PW.)
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