Envy is a Powerful Motivator

I am envious of other writers. I am envious of their success and their ability to connect with readers.  I am envious of those people who can step into a crowd and walk away with a gaggle of new friends.  I am envious of you.

Envy is that green-eyed, nine-armed monster who menaces us all, especially writers. Why, because we are human.  We covet what others have, or maybe just what we don’t have.  So no matter how much I try to follow a stoic philosophy and accept things as they come, I am constantly reminded of my shortcomings through such base emotions as envy.

My most recent bout with this ugly monster occurred just yesterday. I went to a writers meeting and listened to the guest speaker read from his work, and was instantly overcome.  There are a lot of writers out there that are good, but occasionally you run across one that takes your breath away.  This guy was an entertaining speaker, inspirational motivator, overall nice person, and worst of all, a great writer.  He had the full package.  I wanted to be him.

This is the type of encounter that can propel you in one of two directions: either you realize you’ll never get there and quit, or you become motivated to try even harder.  I’ll admit that I sat on that fence for a good hour after the meeting, but finally decided to keep moving forward.  That’s the positive side of such a base emotion – it can inspire you instead of devour you.

I recognize that the argument will be made that we get together, critique, and workshop to lift each other up. We celebrate each other’s successes and have all these positive emotions that drive us forward together.  Still I wonder if those feelings are as powerful a motivator.  I wonder if that is the real reason why we have such meetings—to be inspired through our envy of others?  You would think there would be an easier way, but maybe not.

I think I want to be in a group with people that piss me off with their success. I want to be striving to catch up to them.  I want to envy them all the way to the bank, quit my day job, and then envy them some more.  Oh yeah, and have fun doing it.



1 Comment

Filed under Philosophy, Writing

One response to “Envy is a Powerful Motivator

  1. That reminds me of my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris. A young writer on vacation in Paris gets into a cab, and when he gets out, he finds himself in 1920s Paris and meets Ernest Hemingway:

    Gil: Would you read it?

    Ernest Hemingway: Your novel?

    Gil: Yeah, it’s about 400 pages long, and I’m just looking for an opinion.

    Ernest Hemingway: My opinion is I hate it.

    Gil: Well you haven’t even read it yet.

    Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

    Ha! Can’t you easily imagine Ernie saying that?

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