Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 25, 2013

When the Green Monster Rears Its Ugly Head

I was over at Turbo Monkey Tales and Marilyn Hilton’s post about jealousy caught by eye. It is something we have not talked about here during the four and a half years I’ve been blogging. But is it something that we have all felt at times and something we do not like to feel. I thought Marilyn did a good job on opening up this subject and putting forth ideas to help. Here is an excerpt:

The Thing That Can’t Be Named

marilyn hiltonby Marilyn Hilton

During the last session of a writer’s conference a few years ago, one of the leaders asked the attendees what topics we’d like addressed the following year. One brave person piped up. “Jealously,” she said. There was an uncomfortable silence, and then a shifting of seats, a shuffling of feet, muffled coughs. And then nodding of heads.

She had spoken it—the thing we all feel but no one wants to name. Because naming it means admitting we feel it. And admitting we feel it makes us feel ugly and ashamed.

– She signed with my dream agent.
– He signed a three-book contract.
– She won the award I wanted to/deserved to win.

We may be smiling on the outside, but inside the green-eyed monster roars. “I should have gotten that agent/contract/award/five-star review/<fill in the blank>.” “S/he’s not that awesome a writer—I saw a typo on page 11.” So begins the spiral downward. And if we give in to our jealousy, it will destroy our relationships, our spirits, and our careers.

(Deep breath.) My name is Marilyn and once in a while I get jealous. Okay, I admit it. And it makes me feel like the lowest creature on the planet, unworthy and undeserving of the company of other human beings. So, to restore myself to humanity, I’ve figured out a few strategies for controlling the thing that can’t be named:

1. Know that I can feel truly, genuinely happy for another person’s success and neon-green envious at the same time; both can occupy my heart simultaneously.

2. Use the other person’s accomplishments to motivate me to work harder—whether that means writing more pages or spending more time each day to write; reading more each day to study the craft; polishing a manuscript one more time until it shines; committing to attending writers’ gatherings more often and stepping out of my shyness to meet more people.

3. Write a list of my accomplishments—no matter how small—and keep them in sight.

4. Give love freely to others. No one but the artist knows the struggle and heartbreak behind the contract signing, the manuscript writing, the award winning, the publicity. Everyone needs a high-five, a hug, and encouraging words. Every single one.

5. Keep in mind that my gifts are different from everyone else’s, and it’s up to me to use those gifts responsibly and to the fullest. Recognize that although we’re all on the same journey, each one of us has been set on a different path.

Here is the link to read the full ten tips in Marilyn’s article.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. ah yes….. that thing. We all feel it, even agents. It’s part of admiration and appreciation. But the ‘why can’t I do that?’ comes roaring in at times. It’s ok…accept it and let it roar right back out again. Onward….


  2. The green-eyed monster has been hanging out with me all week, and I have indulged it. But, I agree with #2 and #5, and plan to have a productive weekend.


  3. Kathy, ever since you posted this, I meant to post a reply, but wanted to be sure I expressed myself properly, then got busy and forgot about it. I also had to think about what was being said in this article to be sure I knew what it was—specifically—that I disagreed with; it was important to put a finger on it, I think. So the first thing I did was I went to Merriam-Webster’s to look up the accurate definitions of the words being used (I pasted them at the end). I also narrowed it down to the one point I can’t agree with which is #1 as you posted it here; it’s #2 in Marilyn’s article. (I think many/most of the other points are simply good things to keep in mind to keep persevering and don’t necessarily have to do with jealousy, but rather frustration.). This is what I can’t agree with:

    “Know that I can feel truly, genuinely happy for another person’s success
    and neon-green envious at the same time;
    both can occupy my heart simultaneously.”

    If these two feelings are occupying your heart simultaneously, they are certainly having one hell of a battle ‘cause they can’t co-inhabit peacefully. One, in fact, pretty much negates the other; if you begrudge or feel hostility or resentment toward someone’s fortunate circumstances or abilities (cutting them down without reason), you simply are not truly, genuinely happy for them. (There are also different shades of “green” when referring to this, I’d say.)

    The few thoughts or feelings listed here, to me, are begrudging and resentful, so they are, in fact, truly jealous and envious, certainly if someone feels it should’ve been oneself INSTEAD of her/him:

    – She signed with my dream agent.
    – He signed a three-book contract.
    – She won the award I wanted to/deserved to win.
    –“I should have gotten that agent/contract/award/five-star review/.”
    –“S/he’s not that awesome a writer—I saw a typo on page 11.”

    That last remark is, of course, silly since typos are made by even the best writers. It has nothing to do with the writing ability of an author. And, if the book was traditionally published, I know I’m always surprised when I see actual typos in published books wondering how it got past the many skilled pairs of eyes reading the manuscript. BUT—there ARE many times authors get published and the quality of their work isn’t necessarily “stellar.” Sometimes it’s our own opinion, and sometimes it’s popular opinion. Many of us have often wondered how some books get published and it has nothing to do with jealousy. If we sincerely don’t think someone’s work is publication-worthy or we can’t enjoy it or get into it for one reason or another, it’s our opinion and sometimes our taste. I know that for me, I find it more of an irritation. Personally, I don’t feel envious—just frustrated and confused.

    Generally what I feel, not having any “luck” on the publishing road just yet, is just that—frustration due to the disappointment from the lack of success so far, along with the continued pursuit, still having to question what the obstacles are (ability, subject matter, timing, submitting to the wrong agent/editor, etc., and so on). That is a much different entity than jealousy and envy.

    Firstly, for those of us who’ve been a part of this industry, whether still aspiring or having found some measure of success, have all been trying to attain the same (regardless of the reasons why) goal: to be a published author or illustrator. Most of the people I’ve had the good fortune to meet seem very sincere in their happiness at others’ successes. I know I am. The fact that I then feel frustrated by my lack of success (so far) has nothing to do with jealousy or envy. I am not resentful and I don’t begrudge other people their success or at least their being able to open the door of opportunity (there’s no guarantee of success once that door is opened). My wanting that for myself is what I’ve been striving for, so of course I want that for myself TOO. It’s not some NEW desire just because someone else has attained it (indicative of envy, like keeping up with the Joneses); it’s also been MY goal for years. And I don’t want to have that success INSTEAD of that other person.

    As non-published authors or illustrators, I think that if we’re doing a bit of self-analyzing to gain self-awareness, it’s important to assess what we’re feeling keeping those things in mind: jealousy/envy vs. frustration/personal disappointment. They are two very different things.


    Definition of JEALOUS

    1 a: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness
    b: disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness
    2: hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage
    3: vigilant in guarding a possession

    Definition of ENVY

    1: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined
    with a desire to possess the same advantage
    2: obsolete : malice
    3: an object of envious notice or feeling

    Definition of ENVY
    transitive verb

    1: to feel envy toward or on account of
    2: obsolete : begrudge

    intransitive verb
    obsolete : to feel or show envy

    Definition of FRUSTRATION

    1: the act of frustrating
    2a: the state or an instance of being frustrated
    b: a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising
    from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs
    3: something that frustrates


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