The other night I was out with some writer and agent friends having drinks and spreading malicious gossip (as we do), and the subject of author jealousy came up. Someone was telling a story about an author behaving badly because another author was enjoying some great success, and even though author #1 was plenty successful they felt slighted.

Authors get jealous of each other all the time. We all simultaneously think we’re geniuses and fear we’re frauds, so when someone else sells scads of books or wins awards or gets a big advance we feel rage that we’re not getting those things (even if we’ve gotten them before) and then get really drunk, convinced we’ll never publish again, and end the evening weeping openly as we toilet paper some random stranger’s house, pass out in a dumpster, and wake up to write again.

The secret to jealousy isn’t to deny it, but use it.

Rage Against Other Novelists

I speak from experience. A few years ago I went to a conference and after the first day I realized that I was approximately the 256th most important author there. Other writers had bigger deals, other writers had more support, longer lines—other writers, basically, had everything, and I got really depressed. I was convinced I’d had my shot and missed it.

On the place home, I wrote some of the best chapters of my life, chapters in a story that eventually evolved into We Are Not Good People. That book was partially fueled by rage and jealousy.

So, next time you’re feeling like other, less-talented authors (read: all of them, naturally) are getting the money and attention you deserve, don’t waste your time being an asshole, or a passive-aggressive frenemy to the other writers in your circle. Get to work. Take that negative energy and like Emperor Palpatine grow stronger from it, and write with a sense of desperation. It’ll pay off. And it comes with fewer police summonses.

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