by Dan Walsh, @DanWalshAuthor
In recent years, the idea of “Going Green” has become a pretty popular and positive thing in the US. I say “recent years” because I can easily recall a time (in my youth) when the thought of focusing on the quality of our environment was no big deal. No one talked about it. The topic was rarely in the news. No one ever recycled anything or cared about “sustainability” (they wouldn’t even understand such terms if they heard them).
There was, at least, common agreement that tall factory smokestacks belching out thick clouds of black smoke was probably a bad thing. But that’s as far as our environmentalism went. No one ever thought about Going Green as a good thing.
Today, I want to talk about a more traditional form of Going Green. That is, the greenness of Envy. Why do we associate the color Green with Envy and Jealousy? Some say it goes back to the time of Shakespeare (Othello, Act III, Scene 3: “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on“).
A few days ago, I was reading some comments on a Facebook writer’s group when someone posted about their struggle with Envy. Specifically, the envy of other writers’ success. She was, in a way “fessing up” to something she wanted to be free from. Very quickly, a large number of other writers jumped in, identifying with her and admitting to ways they struggled with the same thing. At some point, one of the contributors noticed only women were sharing, so she tagged me and other male authors she knew, asking us to weigh in.
See — as I shared in my Novel Rocket column last month (CLICK HERE to read I Make Up Stuff For a Living) — I’ve had the good fortune and a sufficient measure of success to write full time for the last 7 years. I was concerned that if I shared my situation on this FB group, rather than encourage these writers, I would simply provide a fresh temptation to become envious again (by being envious of me).
I had a second big concern with responding to this FB post. That is, even with my measure of success, I can still struggle with Envy. I imagined most of the writers who had just shared their envy-struggles would have a hard time imagining why I—after all the success I’ve had—would still struggle with it, too.
But I do. I don’t want to. But sometimes I still do.
So, I decided to jump in and share my struggle, such as it is. Here’s what I said:
I actually still get envious of other authors. Which authors? Those who sell mega-books, or those whose books have been turned into movies (which then resulted in them selling mega-more books). I’ve had one of my better novels optioned 3 times by 3 different production companies (something always happens to short-circuit the process). I keep wondering, when will one of my books finally break away, so that I don’t have to work so hard at making this livable income? I’d like to drop down to writing 1 book a year (and not have to market so much). I’d like to be able to travel and research fascinating locations in person (vs going there on Google Earth). I’d like the freedom, just once, to work on a book that I’d want to write, just because it interests me and stirs my imagination, without worrying once about its sales’ potential. I fantasize that THIS is the book that will finally break away for me, but it can’t happen, because I can’t write it, because I’m stuck on this production treadmill, writing books that will help me keep writing books that will keep earning me this livable income.
So you see? It never ends. What’s that Proverb? “The leech has 2 daughters: Give, Give.”
I think, because of Adam’s fall, we are all hard-wired and prone to Envy. If we ever get that thing we’ve longed to have for so long, we soon find ourselves longing for the next thing. And social media—for all its benefits—easily serves up fresh bouts of envy, as we read about one author after another experiencing levels of success that have still eluded us.
Why God? Why them, and why not me?
Why? Well, for starters…that’s the wrong question to ask. It springs from a heart that’s looking in the wrong direction altogether. Contentment never springs from a heart that’s comparing its lot with others. I’ve heard it said, contentment comes not from getting what you want, but wanting what you have. When I focus on that, I find spreading out before me a growing list of things to be thankful for. As I begin to thank God for those things, the green-eyed monster quickly flees the scene.
I’ll start off with how thankful I am about the launch of my newest book (my 18th overall, my 5th as an indie, and 3rd in my Jack Turner Suspense series). It’s called Unintended Consequences. Sales are going extremely well and the early reviews have been spectacular.
So…why don’t you jump in here? Share some of your struggles with Writer-Envy and, perhaps, follow up with an equal number of things you are grateful for.
Jack and Rachel leave Culpepper for their long-awaited honeymoon trip, a driving tour through New England. On day three, they stop at a little bayside town in Cape Cod to visit Jack’s grandmother. After he gets called away to handle an emergency, Rachel stays and listens as Jack’s grandmother shares a remarkable story about how she and Jack’s grandfather met in the early days of World War 2. It’s a story filled with danger, decades-old family secrets, daring rescues and romance. Jack is named after his grandfather, and this story set the course and direction for Jack’s life to the present day. After hearing it, Rachel is amazed that anyone survived.
Title Photo Copyright: rtimages / 123RF Stock Photo