Does jealousy make me a better writer?
I ask that because this morning as I was reading through the blogs I came to a posting that brought that ugly little bear out from its den. I am not prone to jealousy. The times when I have been jealous of a girlfriend or partner have been blessedly rare and when they did occur it turned out that my feelings were not exactly unfounded. I also enjoy seeing other people succeed, especially when they have something of an underdog story to tell (I am a sucker for an underdog, which I attribute to being Quaker. As an example, I found myself rooting for the Cuban women's volleyball team against the US because the US team was so dominant and all I could think of was the Cuban women having to overcome so much to get to where they were).
However, there are times when I want something so much that when I see someone succeeding and doing so not just because of talent, but because they were given some advantage I become jealous of them and their ability to so easily achieve goals I struggle for. When I was a reporter I would constantly run into people who had jobs and assignments I would have done anything for and so many times they didn't appreciate what they had and then I would come to find out that they arrived at their station due to some fortuitous connection such as through a parent or former teacher or some other link that allowed them easy access.
Now it is the people who for whatever reason are given a key to the front door without really paying the dues I see myself and so many others paying in order to realize a goal and fulfill the promise of our talent; and they act in a way that seems to say, "Hey look what life just dropped in my lap." Or perhaps I am viewing these stories through the colored prism of jealousy. Really, why should I care or even mind if someone seems to have had such an easier time being a writer than I have?
The fact of the matter is that writing as a profession is not fair. It is not a meritocracy where those who work the hardest and put in the hours and suffer with no money and a very simple lifestyle are the ones that are rewarded. It is a place where random events lead to random outcomes. Yes there are those whose parents have connections or they happen to have a friend that get s a key job at a publishing house or agency and they are alllowed to walk right in through the front door and never really look back. The caveat, though, is that for these people to succeed they must have at least a base level of talent and they must keep working and they must love what they do.
After reading Donald Hall's bio (Unpacking the Boxes) I went through periodic fits of jealousy in that he decided he wanted to be a poet and so on he went to Philips Exeter Academy and then from there to Harvard and throughout he met and maintained connections with the leaders of the publishing inductry and especially those with a similar background and views on poetry so that not only did he have connections, but he was cut from the same clothe and was writing the poems these people wanted and expected.
On the other hand, though, he discovered a love for poetry at a very young age and nothing anyone did could disuade him from it. He worked very hard and practiced his craft at every opportunity and developed the skills and temperment that has led to him creating some very good writing. For all that he was given, he worked hard as well and made good use of his opportunities.
But still, I read or hear of others that decide to write and the path is so free of obstructions that I find myself jealous of the opportunity that life has afforded them and I resent having to work as hard as I have. And yet, I don't throw my hands up in frustration because I know that I love what I do no matter how much I struggle at it and if I have to prove myself three times as much as the other person and work very hard at creating opportunities and luck, then that it what it takes for me to succeed. We all have to find our own path through the darkened wood and I suppose that is what I do everyday.
Causes James Buchanan Supports
Expanding health care in the US, ending war as a viable tool of foreign policy, and issues related to social justice in general.