Remedies for Writer’s Envy

Writing a book seems almost effortless compared to promoting it. I don’t think I ever suffered from writer’s envy before I had a book published. I’m pretty sure I have it now. Not chronically or acutely. Just now and then.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful for the support I’ve received from friends, family, and my local bookstores. But like a spoiled child, I want more. I want bigger. I want what she has, the one with the book tour, or her with all the interviews, or him with the movie deal.

I’m on my own path, I tell myself. So when I’m tripped up by writer’s envy, I tend to my bruises with my own particular remedies.

Put it in perspective – In my day job, I oversee a program that provides workshops and classroom presentations on environmental topics. My job is to increase awareness of the impact our daily activities have on the planet—without being alarmist about it. But let’s face it, people. There are phthalates in our shampoos, pesticides in our produce, formaldehyde in our wrinkle-free clothes, plastics in our oceans, and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. So to paraphrase Bogart, “I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that one little novel doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

Flex some muscle – I mean this literally. Other than a thickening waistline, I’m slightly built, but years of running, biking, and yoga have resulted in calves that when flexed show the different bands of muscle just like the anatomy posters in your doctor’s office. In a foot race with other writers in my age group or even below my age group, I’m pretty sure I could kick some butt.

Commiserate with other writers – Yes, a pity party with your writing group! But mix it up with positive stuff, too, which is easy if you have an outstandingly cool writing group like mine. Alma Garcia, Allison Green and Jennifer D. Munro are smart and funny. They’re incisive readers and wonderful writers. My writing group kicks butt.

Watch The Muppets – They sing, they dance, they save their beloved theater. And they’ve been labeled commies by Fox News. The Muppets kick butt.

Sit slack-jawed in front of the TV – We watch very little TV at our house. We used to have cable and I had a boggling assortment of channels not to watch. Now that our options are much reduced, it’s easier to decide on a program to distract me from my writer’s envy: The Amazing Race. Unlike writing, it’s meant to be competitive. On the show, teams of two race around the world, completing challenges along the way that are supposed to connect contestants to the culture of the country they happen to be in during this jet-fuel guzzling, continent-hopping odyssey. For instance, contestants have tested their ability to solve a puzzle while spinning in teacups at Legoland in Denmark, construct toy trucks out of drink cartons at a school in Malawi, and wash an elephant in Bangkok. There’s other stuff, too, like driving a car at 100 miles an hour and walking a tightrope strung between two high-rises. Foolhardy, madcap things to raise the stakes and one’s blood pressure. My husband and I often speculate how we would fare as a team. He’s calm. I’m easily ruffled. He’s analytical. I’m easily ruffled. He’s strategic. I’m easily ruffled. Yet, I’m pretty competitive. I’m thinking we could win a few challenges—though we might end up kicking each other’s butt.

Do crossword puzzles – Another validly competitive activity. Online, a little clock silently ticks away in the corner of the screen, a ceaseless bully. Provocation to work fast, incentive to kick butt.

Comfort yourself with comfort food – Chocolate covered almonds. Rich cheeses. Yeah, I indulge. The downside is ending up with a bigger butt to get kicked—not to mention a cholesterol spike.

Celebrate what you have – Our roof leaks and our front porch sags. Our water pressure is a trickle, likely due to the tree out front doing a subterranean strangle of our pipes. Our car is twenty years old and begs to be put out of its misery. But, hey, we have a house. We have a car. We have jobs and health insurance. Oh, and I’ve had a book published. (Some say it kicks butt.)

Read – For pleasure, to be humbled, to be inspired. Here’s some stuff I’ve read lately. All of these writers kick butt.