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Jan Fields is a professional writer with publication credits in newspapers, magazines and books. She's also the webeditor for the Institute's Rx for Writers support sections, editor of the Children's Writers eNews and the editor and creator of Kid Magazine Writers eMagazine. She teaches several course for the Institute and in her spare time, she sleeps.

"Beating the Jealous Bug"

by Jan Fields

The first time the Jealous Bug bit me was when I saw writers who I knew had fewer years in their craft landing book contracts while my picture book was making it to acquistion meetings but no further. Part of me wanted to roar, "Why not me?" I didn't want to see my collegues fail, I just wanted to see me succeed too. But that frustration definitely grew greener eyes with each success someone else shared.

Now, since I knew jealousy wasn't a good thing, I immediate felt really guilty about it. These people were my collegues and some were even friends. I wanted to see them succeed. I wanted them to feel free to share their good news with me. I just also wanted to squirt them with the hose...well, only a little. Still, I felt guilty about that. I must be a bad person if I couldn't celebrate with friends with a pure heart -- right?

Wrong.

1. I took time to really look at what I was feeling. I was frustrated. I had a sudden rash of "always the bridesmaid and never the bride" events where I came so close to the sale. And the frustration of that did make me touchier about good news. That meant I was human, not evil.

2. I realized this feeling was part of a specific season I was going through. During my earlier days when I knew I was far from being ready for the "big time" I didn't feel jealous. Instead I felt hopeful since those better writers were where I would be. But now I was at that transition time -- almost reaching an important goal for me, but not quite there. And that's a frustrating time with a lot of emotion. I believed I was not going to be there forever (and in fact, I wasn't.) Sometimes we do have seasons that are harder emotionally than others.

3. I began to look at the successes I did have instead of focusing on my present "plateau." In the years I had been writing professionally, I'd gotten a lot in print and some of it I was quite proud of. As I thought about the good parts of my career instead of focusing on the frustration, I felt some of that jealousy ebb.

4. I accepted a fresh that everyone's publishing path is different. I enjoyed my eclectic publishing credits, but I had to admit that some of the folks winning contracts had focused on just one thing and not scattered their energy as much as I had. I liked my publishing path and it's the one I chose -- but that meant I needed to accept the pluses and minuses to it. If I was going to want credit for the pluses, I had to accept my own part in the minuses as well.

5. I remembered the people who cheered with me. Some of them might have had a slight dash of "I wish it was me" when I had good news too, but that didn't keep them from supporting me. And my support of my collegues success was appreciated too. And I did support them and cheer for them. Even if I couldn't totally control my emotional reaction, I could totally control my actions -- and they lined up with my core belief, everyone deserves to be cheered when they get good news in this business.

6. I channeled some of that energy into my work. I sought out a new skill. I read a writing book with a fresh approach. I wrote and sold a little light verse, just because I always had good success with that and I was at a spot where I needed some good news. I became proactive in my own improvement instead of giving in to moping about what I didn't have.

And I did have bigger and bigger "good news" moments of my own. I got my good news in MY time -- just as my collegues had hit it in theirs. I still have goals ahead of me. I still have failures ahead of me. I still have successes ahead of me. And they're all part of the publishing path that is uniquely mine. And I even accept the green-eyed monster might pop in again -- but this time, I have a plan for making sure it doesn't stay too long.

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