If there’s one thing more pervasive than rejection in the writing industrial complex, it’s envy. Professional envy isn’t chic to discuss in public, and you’re told to lick your wounds behind closed doors with your writing comrades in arms. Just like Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Wife, there’s sound logic to the rule. You look bitter and tacky while making everyone else feel uncomfortable. If you keep the envy private, the industry can keep humming along while it faces more important problems.
However, false smiles in public and seething frustration at home can lead to a fractured identity. I’ve submitted to this practice for decades, and I’ve reached a point where proper behind-closed-doors venting does nothing for me anymore. Full apologies to the friends and family who try to make me feel better despite my excessive ranting that leads to over-rumination.
So, I’ll acknowledge the feeling here, in my own obscure corner of the internet: I am experiencing envy and yes, it’s petty. Time for me to look tacky, too.
My feelings are predicated on several intertwined issues. Each fact on its own is nothing, but together, they have the power to topple me. They’re an Envy Megazord.
These are the facts:
- This author is very opinionated about what’s right and true in the world but more importantly, what they think is terribly wrong with society. And for better or worse, people listen.
- This author’s book has an element that’s similar to my one and only genre fiction novel I published under another name that went nowhere.
- They released the novel with a respected mid-to-high-level publisher while I did not. At an industry mixer we both attended, most of the authors stopped talking to me the minute they realized I was with a small press.
- The romantic relationship in their book is problematic because of an inherent power imbalance between the two characters. More so than other types of power imbalances that are popular in the genre. This person fights the fight to call out all the problematic problems in the world but falls right into the net themselves. Yet no one is going to realize it or call them out on it because the tropes they use are seen as swoon-worthy.
- Naming names and politicizing it on social media would do nothing except land me in a massive shitstorm.
And I’m just going to have to deal with it. This person’s career has nothing to do with mine. We are not friends. We are not enemies. They probably don’t even remember me. We are nothing to each other. There’s no reason for this person to take up space in my head, and the author doesn’t deserve me saying something to them. It wouldn’t change the genre’s conventions. It wouldn’t change the book. It would do nothing except attack them.
If anything, I am envious that this author has the courage and persistence call out the things they have a problem with and publicly get a ton of support from their writing community despite the trolls.
I come from an upbringing where French teachers would scold you for being too quiet (me) or too loud (some kid named Bruno, among others) or not having a good enough accent (Miranda). With our current social media culture, I’m in a similar position now and feel like I can’t win, so I hide in my corner of obscurity. That’s on me, though.
I have no moves, no power, in this situation, which is part of what makes it suck balls. Time to move on to something I do have control over: the writing.
Megazord image from Dorkside Toys