Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

On Jealousy

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When I first started DearAuthor two years ago, I thought I would be just another reader blog. I had a couple of friends who had blogs (Rosario and Keishon) and I loved reading Maili’s blog (miss McVane terribly). I wanted to part of that reader network.

As DearAuthor grew, though, I began to fret about its growth. I started checking the blog’s statistics constantly, not just once a day but several times a day. I wanted to be bigger and appear higher in the google rankings. While on the one hand I was stunned and appreciative of the growth, I began to want more. The worst offshoot of the DA growth was the animosity I started to feel toward the Smart Bitch website. Around the winter of 2006, I began to resent the SB site and the SB creators tremendously.

With every accolade they received (and they have been nominated for bloggie awards, featured in Sadie Magazine, guest columns at Tango, named one of PC editor’s top blog reads and rightly so), my little green monster was fed. I would get emails about how funny they were. I read with envy at the number of authors that frequented their site. When I decided to go to RWA in the summer of 2007, I knew that they would be there. And I also knew, with the surety of one who knows nothing, that they would be embraced and I would not be. They wrote better. They were funnier. They had more contacts.

When RWA rolled around, I had engaged in a few email exchanges with Sarah and Candy. Nothing of import, but I can tell you that the idea of meeting them was making me nervous. They would probably be aloof. They would travel with an entourage of authors five meters long. They were, in my opinion, part of the cool crowd and I had never been part of the cool crowd.

But when I met them, in an instant, I saw how warm and friendly they were. Sarah and Candy both confessed to being a little nervous about being there. Sarah, hugely pregnant, sat and talked to us bloggers Kristie J, Wendy, Sybil and I, like there was no other place that she wanted to be. And in the space of an hour, any negativity I had felt melted away. I left RWA and meeting Sarah and Candy with a newfound appreciation for all that they were accomplishing. I recognized that the success of their blog is a good thing for all bloggers. I realized, at the core of it, that Sarah and Candy were like me. Individuals who strive to do the best that they can with their set of skills.

It’s really a pleasure and an honor to consider them friends. I’ve become increasingly closer to SB Sarah, in particular, over the year. I’ve discovered that there are few with a bigger heart than Sarah and few funnier than Candy.

I am ashamed of all the envy I felt. And mostly I recognized that jealousy never made me a better blogger and certainly not a better person. In the great scheme of things, I’ve tried to keep a perspective that this, for me, is just a hobby and that if it is all gone tomorrow, that DearAuthor would crash and burn or we’ve gathered all the readers we will ever gather, I’ll still have my friendships and the wonderful relationships I’ve developed through this process.

Jealousy never makes anyone look good, least of all me. But I tell you that if you feel any jealousy toward another author, you might take an opportunity at RWA to seek out those that they envy (and not in a good way). It’s so much easier to feel jealousy when you don’t know someone, because when you get to know people they’re humanized and it’s tougher to be adversaries. When you interact with people on a face to face basis, you realize everyone has their foibles and their bad days and their moods, and it’s easy to project a whole bunch of stuff onto other people that’s not even there.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

45 Comments

  1. Emma Petersen
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 05:13:00

    This was an amazing post, Jane. If I wasn’t a fan of yours before, I sure am now. It takes a lot of heart to admit something so personal the way you have. We can all learn a lot from this post and from you.

    Hugs, Em

    ReplyReply

  2. Karen Scott
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 06:15:44

    I love you like a fat kid loves cake. *g*

    ReplyReply

  3. Nathalie
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 06:19:27

    We’ve all dealt with the green monster at some point. I’m glad you found friends in the SB. It’s a small community, a small world even, we should try harder to view others’ efforts as complimentary to our own rather than competition.

    Cheers,

    Nat

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  4. Beth
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 06:22:34

    What a great post!

    DA and SB have become my two favorite places to visit on the net. Both blogs have made me more eager and less embarrassed to read romance novels, and they have made me a more astute, more informed reader of them, as well.

    Thank you.

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  5. Nathalie
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 06:29:08

    I agree with Beth. I used to be embarrassed of those covers that we sometimes see on the SB’s Snark Column. Now, I embrace the improbable breasts, the mullet and the clinch! Bring it on!

    And yes, Jane, thank you. I forgot to add that in my first post. Back to lurking with me.

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  6. Keishon
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 07:05:07

    and it's easy to project a whole bunch of stuff onto other people that's not even there.

    Couldn’t agree more on that point.

    I am glad you guys took the plunge and started blogging. When you started way back when, you stood out even then. It’s amazing what you’ve done here and I love this community of readers and authors you’ve established here. You guys rock. Hope you’re around forever and ever and ever. [g]

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  7. SB Sarah
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 07:42:28

    The worst place to be when I’m having twisty fits of jealous is in my own head. Everything is worse in there, always. And once I actually talk to the person who is giving me fits, I feel better. And also kinda stupid for having built up the silly drama all in my head. All that drama gets in the way of things I have to remember, like where the crap I put my keys.

    Also: Sarah, hugely pregnant, sat and talked to us bloggers Kristie J, Wendy, Sybil and I, like there was no other place that she wanted to be.

    There wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be! I was worried you’d all get up and go somewhere. You had chairs. And air conditioning. I was as big as a barn. But most importantly I felt like that was where I belonged. That evening, which happened right after I arrived, was one of my favorite parts of RWA Dallas.

    Your site makes the romance community online better (no matter what anyone else says) and I remain jealous of your organizational skills. Not getting over that one any time soon, either.

    See you tomorrow!

    ReplyReply

  8. MJ
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 08:33:31

    I had almost the same revelation last conference. I realized I was taking on other people’s opinions instead of forming my own, and these poor people I projected my feelings on were really quite wonderful. I won’t be fooled again (I hope!)

    ReplyReply

  9. Sarah Frantz
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 08:49:36

    This is such a great post. Thank you so much for all you do for romance. I so wish I could meet you all in SF. Have fun without me! I’ll be in DC next year.

    ReplyReply

  10. Bonnie
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 08:56:26

    Really nice post.

    I love both of your sites for different reasons. I’m glad you’re both here.

    And have a great time!

    ReplyReply

  11. Sherry Thomas
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 09:01:48

    Thank you for being so open and courageous.

    ReplyReply

  12. Julia Quinn
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 09:37:20

    What a great post. I can tell you as an author that this is something we all struggle with, especially when you’re trying to claw your way out of midlist. What I eventually realized is that it is perfectly natural and okay to be 90% happy for another author and still 10% (okay, often more) thinking, “But what about ME?” And that wondering why some author got a perk you didn’t didn’t make you a bad person or even a bad friend. Just about every author I know has, at some time, had some other author she has been unable to stop comparing her career to.

    The difference is when it moves from wishing/hoping/wondering to being unkind or devious. Which, thankfully, I haven’t seen too often.

    JQ

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  13. Mrs Giggles
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 09:40:34

    If we are all confessing, can I join in?

    I’m so jealous that you guys live in America where (a) books are cheap, (b) book selection is wide, and (c) people are happy to send you ARCs without flinching at the cost of overseas postage. Plus you guys get to attend all these conventions and parties and industry meetings while I can only sit in front of my PC and read the reports.

    I hate you guys!

    (No, not really.)

    ReplyReply

  14. Jaci Burton
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 09:49:59

    What a wonderful post Jane.

    I don’t think there’s a person out there, for whatever reason, in whatever position, who hasn’t felt the same way at one time or another. We all have fits of jealousy from time to time over something someone has or does better. It’s human nature and it’s normal. Getting over it is a good thing. Doing whatever it takes to get past it–usually it’s meeting that person and realizing they’re not the ogre you thought they were is usually the best way to deal with pesonal jealousies. When you let it grind at you and become an unwarranted personal crusade, then it’s a bad thing and becomes self destructive.

    And I absolutely adore DA and SBs. You both bring something unique to the table.

    Thanks for always being open and honest, Jane.

    ReplyReply

  15. Jessica Barksdale Inclan
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 10:15:11

    On the blog I write on frequently (Redroom.com), we’ve discussed this terrible affliction we all have. Writer Ericka Lutz likened it to having the flu. You have the jealousy flu, and you need to just let it pass. You need to not beat up on yourself because of it.

    I try to take that advice, but I get the flu periodically. I read about other authors doing great author things, things I am just not doing about now. Recognizing that I have those thoughts makes me feel even worse about myself, sure that I’m a very bad person.

    I need a vaccination. And I think the only cure is to just admit that all these feeling accumulate, and to let them go through and out of you.

    Thank you for posting this, as we can mostly all relate, about blogging or writing or, basically, anything.

    Jessica

    ReplyReply

  16. Susanna Kearsley
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 10:22:53

    Lovely post, Jane.

    Both you and the SBs are part of my daily routine now, and I like the way your mutual affection and respect shine through on both your sites. You really do complement one another, and cover so much ground between you that, when I was speaking to a large group of reader services librarians (the ones who help people find books, and who recommend titles) earlier this summer, and they asked me what web sites they should be visiting to keep on top of what’s hot in romance, I said DA and SB were all that they’d need.

    It’s a good thing for all of us that you made friends with each other in Dallas.

    ReplyReply

  17. Janine
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 10:57:49

    What a brave post. I never knew this about you, so you did a good job of not letting it show. I’m glad you also didn’t let it fester.

    ReplyReply

  18. HelenKay Dimon
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 11:10:58

    Thanks for having the courage to share this. We all experience these emotions but don’t talk about them because we feel bad. This is a good reminder that we’re all human and even the cool kids – you are one, sweetie – suffer from self-doubt and envy.

    ReplyReply

  19. Meljean
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 11:15:19

    I am so going to squee at you when I see you in SF. And after an epic fail while shopping yesterday, I’ll admit I am jealous of that sweet dress you wore last year in the photo that was posted on so many blogs (while I was so jealous I wasn’t in Dallas).

    Fantastic post. I think most authors have probably felt that jealousy at one time or another, before and after publishing — in my case, it makes me want to work harder. The same goes here: I’m glad as hell that you were jealous, especially if it was partially what drove you to make this site as fantastic as it is.

    ReplyReply

  20. MD
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 11:24:13

    I’m familiar with those feelings, too. :)

    I read Dear Author every day. The tech info and reviews here are entertaining (and the tech info explained in a way even I can comprehend), which I appreciate enormously. This is a unique site I really value.

    ReplyReply

  21. Mad
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 11:54:28

    Great post, Jane! :)

    ReplyReply

  22. Val Kovalin
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 12:20:59

    This is why I signed up for the RSS feed to Dear Author — there’s always some lively, interesting content going up here! To be honest, I’m more familiar with Dear Author than SmartBitches, which I first heard about through Dear Author. But it’s definitely a small world, and I know all about that urge to obsessively check the Google website stats! :) Thanks, Jane, for your honesty and for putting the whole thing into perspective.

    ReplyReply

  23. bettie
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 12:29:25

    What a lovely, courageous post. This is exactly the kind of honesty, introspection and insight that have made Dear Author a daily read for me, and one of my most trusted sites for reviews.

    ReplyReply

  24. Robin
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 12:47:28

    It strikes me that this is a very gender-centered issue.

    Men are competitive, but women are jealous.
    Men are determined, but women are angry.
    Men are ambitious, but women are catty (or even ruthless).
    Men are powerful, but women are bitches.

    I wonder if women felt more comfortable with healthy competition — the kind of push you get from what others are doing to press harder yourself — if we’d have such a struggle with jealousy. Because, of course, jealousy per se isn’t unhealthy; it’s only when it turns to bitterness or some darker resentment that things get squirrely. And it seems to me that those more destructive feelings come from some sense of powerlessness, of not being able to achieve or accomplish enough. And yet I think there’s already so much anxiety for women around accomplishment and ambition that we’re struggling on two fronts: to suppress that natural tendency to compare ourselves with others and to diminish our ambition, lest we be called any number of derogatory names suggesting that we are acting in an *unwomanly* way (i.e. taking on the characteristics more often associated with men, even though they’re not inherently or naturally masculine). And then, of course, there’s the enormous guilt over feeling anything less than unremitting nurturing, passive joy (or stoic, nurturing endurance, depending on the occasion).

    ReplyReply

  25. roslynholcomb
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 12:54:11

    It so heartwarming to see other authors here expressing similar feelings to my own. I usually have to force myself to read the ‘First Sale’ posts on here because I’m so envious. I don’t like feeling this way and hope that I can turn the negative energy into something positive. I must admit though that I usually just end up kicking my own ass.

    ReplyReply

  26. rebyj
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 13:28:54

    I think you guys should just have a huge public cat fight!

    BLOGGERS IN JELLO!!

    Or

    “My rival blogger stole my thunder on the NEXT Jerry Springer”

    or

    “Bloggers Matter” Today on Dr Phil!

    haha

    I’m so glad you guys have all met and bonded, I sit in my lonely shanty surounded by books I’ve read and jealously read the reviews of books I’ll read eventually………………….

    So keep writing! All of you! I have to read SOMETHING till payday while I chant over and over….”I will get up the nerve to go to Sherrilyn Kenyons Asheron book release party next week……..I WILL ! I WILL! AND I’ll even spend the *&*&* money for a dang hardback I can’t afford…grrrr” (If any of you are gonna be here in Nashville for that , holler at me!)

    ReplyReply

  27. Sybil
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 13:37:31

    Holy shit I agree with Robin! ::dies::

    I never understood why you were jealous but I always figured it was I am too vain to get green. But I am not! I just agree with Robin.

    Men are competitive, but women are jealous.
    Men are determined, but women are angry.
    Men are ambitious, but women are catty (or even ruthless).
    Men are powerful, but women are bitches.

    Of course it might also be I have always thought everyone brings something to the table. Be it blogwise or bookwise – opinion shapes the world and no one has nothing to offer. So jealous just seems like too much work.

    oh and I am lazy… go figure ;)

    But I still to this day count that night, at that table, as one of the highlights of Dallas. Up there with you flashing Sabrina.

    ReplyReply

  28. Jill Myles
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 13:59:57

    I think this is a great post, since I plan on clinging to your leg at RWA. And Meljean’s leg. Meljean, you have been warned!

    ReplyReply

  29. Bev Stephans
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 14:12:26

    I’m with so many others. I read DA and SB every day. Sometimes more than once! Great post, great site!

    ReplyReply

  30. Jessa Slade
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 14:17:45

    When I was soliciting opinions for the best romance sites, DA & SBTB always came up together. So whenever I make suggestions, they still go together like fraternal twins. Can’t have just one.

    Although I frequently wrestle with my jealous nature, surprisingly enough it doesn’t bother me in terms of my writing life. I think it’s because I want MY story to be strong and engaging and successful. It’s lovely if somebody else’s is doing well, but that’s not MY story. It’s like wanting my kid to have the best monologue in the school play; she’s not competing with the football team or the chess club. She’s all by herself up there.

    BLOGGERS IN JELLO!!

    On the other hand, the promise of seeing this could revise my feelings on jealousy. I’d definitely join in if these were jello shots.

    ReplyReply

  31. MCHalliday
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 14:19:08

    These posts from bloggers, authors, reviewers and readers, confirms how great ‘Dear Author’ truly is and how we couldn’t/wouldn’t do without the Ja(y)nes, Janet, Janine and Jia!

    The industry news, latest eReader info, first sale posts, reviews, and opinion pieces are always good reading.

    Jane, kudos for your courage to be authentic…you’re loved for it!

    ReplyReply

  32. Popin
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 14:28:14

    Thank you for being so open and courageous

    I agree. Wonderful post.

    ReplyReply

  33. Gail Dayton
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 14:52:02

    Lovely post. I totally agree with you that if you get to know the people you’re having these jellus feelings about, they usually depart quickly. It’s hard to pre-judge once you know the reality.

    I hope to see y’all in SF–I wanted to meet the SB’s last year in Dallas, but kept missing them. I remember stopping by to visit when y’all first began this site and thinking “this sounds like a place I’ll want to visit often.” But since I’ve only begun wandering blogward much in the last several months since I started working a parttime dayjob, and have time there to wander, I didn’t become a regular till recently. I’m glad to visit, and plan to keep it up–no matter what happens with the dayjob. I hope to see one of the DA J’s in SF. If I’m wandering with my head in the clouds, (which is pretty standard) or my nose in a book (which is standard-er) grab hold of me and say hi. Anybody here–commenter or blogger. I’m mostly oblivious, but I’m friendly. :)

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  34. Seressia
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 15:13:50

    Hey, I know I’m glad you’re here. This site is definitely on my daily visit list, even when the poison that is romance-community overload seeps in and I have to cut back on internet usage in self-defense.

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  35. SonomaLass
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 16:19:19

    Like many others, I started reading DA and SB at about the same time. For me, they are the peanut butter and jelly of romance sites — I can’t imagine one without the other. The way things cross over, the different perspectives, the the variety, are all wonderful for me.

    Integrity and honesty are both big for me. Both of these web sites provide that. Like with this post.

    I would totally have loved to meet a few/some/all of you this weekend. In the bustle of the wedding festivities (and awkward encounters with the outlaws), I probably won’t have time to dwell on the missed opportunity!

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  36. MarilynS
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 18:27:06

    Wonderful post! I don’t know of any woman who at one time or another hasn’t been jealous and I agree with all here, it takes a special person to admit it! You rock!

    ReplyReply

  37. Gwen
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 18:49:24

    Jane is a flasher too? Cool. Some serious courage there.

    ReplyReply

  38. Tabitha
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 20:41:32

    As long as we don’t close our minds after we form an opinion, it’s okay — and normal — to have the green monster touch upon us from time to time. DA is one of a few blogs that I visit, like, almost religiously (and I’m not even religious). Love your writing, and the reviews and recommendations on here. Thanks for being so honest.

    ReplyReply

  39. EC Sheedy
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 21:03:42

    Jane, you are amazing! I loved this post.

    You put El Greeno in perspective, as you do all your topics, thoughtfully, literately, and with guts.

    I visit this blog regularly because it rocks. And, yes, SB and Sybil’s blog, too.

    ReplyReply

  40. Zoe Archer
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 23:30:56

    Jane, are you going to the SB drink-a-thon in San Francisco? If so, I’d love to shake your hand for being so mother-trucking cool and candid.

    ReplyReply

  41. katiebabs
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 01:36:03

    I have felt the same way. But I honestly can say you are a lovely and sweet person. :D
    Will you flash this year so I can see it?

    ReplyReply

  42. Betcha Think This Post is About You/My unpopular opinion/Tis about me not you : The Good, The Bad and The Unread
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 10:07:38

    [...] a mind set of what we wanted to do with our blogs vs. what we first started with. (It is her post here that made me think “coolio I can post about this in [...]

  43. Amy Wolff Sorter
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 12:11:40

    Jane, you guys do so much good for the publishing industry and readers and writers really appreciate it. Thanks for being so upfront with your comments.

    Writers go through this a lot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt that “green monster” rise up in me when another writer gets a better review, has better sales, etc., etc., etc. I do what you do though — I congratulate the writer, then move on, rather than getting nasty and letting it fester.

    I think everyone gets jealous as you can see from these wonderful posts. It’s how we deal with the jealousy that makes us class acts (or not, LOL)

    ReplyReply

  44. sistergolden
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 13:48:00

    What a refreshing, honest, constructive and timely post!

    ReplyReply

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