I know a lot of writers.
This is surprising given that I don’t put myself out there in any way. I have a hard enough time calling myself a “writer” let alone talking to others about what I do. But I went to grad school and in the years following have somehow managed to find myself interacting with other people who write.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I know a few people who have been successful at writing.
I know a few writers who have had multiple novels published. I know a writer who was nominated for The Pushcart Prize. I know a writer who contributed to an addition of Best American. I know writers whose work has been featured in every great literary journal, magazine, and web site you can possible think of.
I’m always happy for these people when they share their most recent publishing triumphs. Any such news also makes me jealous.
This is all a precursor to the fact that someone I used to work with just got an agent for her YA book.
I didn’t work with Leanne for very long and I still don’t know her very well, but soon after we met we talked about writing. I’ve never read anything she’s written and I don’t know that she’s ever read anything of mine, aside from perhaps some rants on Facebook. I do know that she’s super nerdy, so she certainly has the street cred for her book. I also know that she’s very dedicated to her writing.
That last point is a big one, because in some ways it’s what I’m really jealous of. Yes, of course, I wish I had an agent for my YA book (or any of my books). But Leanne worked to accomplish that, I have no doubts.
I’ve been re-watching Scrubs lately, so it’s not surprising that I thought of this exchange between Dr. Cox and Carla:
Dr. Cox: For the record, you know you would ace that nurse practitioners program.
Carla: Really? You think so? Well, what if the classes are too hard? What if the teachers are mean? What if the other kids don’t like me?
Dr. Cox: Okay.
Carla: Of course I would ace that program! But I barely get to see my boyfriend as it is. And if I went to class five nights a week? Well…. I guess I’m taking my chances on Turk right now.
Swap my son’s name for “Turk” and there you go.
I don’t write as much as I did before my son was born. I don’t even write as much as I did when he was still a baby. I just went a month without writing anything at all!
And this is just writing. Being a writer also means spending an ridiculous amount of your free time researching literary journals, agents, publishers, etc. and sending your work to all of them. The process has gotten much easier as more people move to digital submissions, but it’s still time consuming.
Then there’s the editing…
The tug of war between what I want/need versus what what my child wants/needs isn’t something I’ve dealt with much, mostly because I am an extreme individual; when it comes to my son, I give him everything. I don’t even question it. There is no balance for me, even though I know that’s an untenable way to live. His existence has impacted me on a molecular level in a way that writer never has, in a way that nothing ever has. I have clarity with my son. I am his dadda and that is all the matters.
Every parent in the world is reading that and thinking they remember when it was like that for them, too. But the reality of the situation is that taking care of your child isn’t just a matter of doing things for them, it’s a matter of setting an example. My son needs to see my at my best (he’ll most assuredly see me at my worst), and I’m at my best when I write.
But time is a problem for a number of reasons, most of which have to do with my specific flaws than any attempts by the universe to conspire against me. Ultimately, I am the only one responsible for the fact that I haven’t been writing.
And so I am jealous. I’m jealous of those who have the focus to write on a regular basis. I’m jealous of those who are taking advantage of those years when they have fewer responsibilities and I’m jealous of those who have plenty of responsibilities, yet still manage to get the writing done. I’m jealous of their success, but I’m more jealous of their work.
We’ll see how jealousy works as a motivator.