Toss the green-eyed monster.

It’s so easy to be jealous. To let the green-eyed monster into your mental house, allow it to sit at the kitchen table in your cerebellum and tell you stories about how things could be so much better if your life was just like that person’s over there. And this is especially true if you’re a writer trying to make it in this often-cruel world.

After all, things aren’t fair.

Advances aren’t standardized at all, which means there’ll always be someone making more money than you.

Sometimes, that person will be a friend.

Some books will always sell better than others, which means there’ll always be someone selling better than you, and sometimes that person will be a friend.

Unless you’re Stephen King, there’ll always be authors that are more important to your publisher’s bottom line than you and thus get more attention, and sometimes that person will be a friend.

Reviews are really subjective, which means there’ll always be someone getting a better review than you, and—you guessed it—sometimes that person will be a friend.

Jealousy is a totally normal human emotion. It happens to the best of us. That doesn’t mean it’s good, or helpful, or in any way something you should be wasting your time on. Frankly, the more time you spend worried about what other people are doing and what other people get, the less you’re working on yourself. The less you’re focusing on your work, your novels, your future.

Especially when that person is a friend.

I’ve spent way too much time being jealous of other people. At first, for finishing novels at all—and then, after that, for how much money or attention or whatever they were getting. It started interfering with my own work, and that’s when I drew the line.

No more.

As you progress in publishing, you’re going to meet other writers at events, conventions, bookstores and more (or, in our pandemic days, on the Internet). Those writers will become your friends. If you think jealousy of the Stephen Kings and the Sophie Kinsellas is bad, just wait until it infects your connections, your friendships, and your happy places.

Now, I’m not talking about real, systematic issues in publishing, of which there are many, and which need to be addressed.

I’m talking about the part that you control.

You can choose not to let jealousy in.

You can choose to clap for other authors, to cheer for them when they climb all the way up the wall, nail the cliff, reach the top of their personal Everest.

And then you can turn back to the wall, pick up your tools and climb. Because there’s only one way up, and you’re the only person that can get yourself there.

Your Everest awaits.

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Karen Osborne

KAREN OSBORNE is a writer, visual storyteller and violinist. Her short fiction appears in Escape Pod, Robot Dinosaurs, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny and Fireside. She is a member of the DC/MD-based Homespun Ceilidh Band, emcees the Charm City Spec reading series, and once won a major event filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding. Her debut novel, Architects of Memory, is forthcoming in 2020 from Tor Books.

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