[Our man JD Mader is either sick or avoiding his bookie. I’m a little fuzzy on the details. Anyway, to keep folks from going into Mader withdrawal, here is one of his early articles for Indies Unlimited. If you haven’t read it, it’s new to you. If you have read it, go ahead and brush up. There may be a test later. – Hise]
Jealousy is a terrible thing. And I was guilty of it for a long, long time. Of course, I still have my moments, but not like before. I have never been jealous with women. I have never wanted someone else’s car, motorcycle, or fishing rod. My problem was being jealous of other people’s successes. I’m not proud to admit it. I’ve had friends get raises, and I really wanted to be happy for them. I’ve watched bands I played with become international superstars…I really, really wanted to just feel glad. Too often, I didn’t. I could care less if someone drives a better car than I do, but when someone succeeds in a professional/creative field I take pride in…man, that ugly green-eyed bastard just shows up. I used to open my New Yorker with trepidation because I knew if anyone I knew got published, I would have to kill myself. The green bastard was in control. Or he used to be. I changed things up on him.
I’ll try to stick to writers here, but this applies to a lot of situations in life. When your friends get the recognition they deserve (or may not deserve), you should be stoked. Like I said, I was not always a great example. Here is what changed it for me (save the occasional jealous twinge). First and foremost, we are a team. Indie writers have a tough row to hoe and if ANY of us accomplish something, we all accomplish something. Especially if we were in there swinging and helping out like we should have been.
The other important realization I had was that letting other people establish the value of your work is a dangerous proposition. I know writers that sell WAY more books than me. Some of them are really, really good. Some of them are mediocre. Some of them are outright bad. So what? And who am I to judge? My time will come if I keep plugging away at it and write things that are valuable to ME. And, in the mean time, if any of us get attention, sales, prestige…well, I am going to be happy for them.
Now, this is all easy to say. There are times you can’t avoid it. Sometimes, I read a story in the New Yorker and I think, “What the hell? I’ve written better stories than this!” Maybe I have. Maybe I haven’t. Doesn’t matter. After the initial reaction, it makes me feel small. And it should.
There is so much involved in this writing game. Being a good writer is important. Work ethic is important. Promotion is important. Sometimes knowing the right people is important. You get enough of those things going for you, bam, it happens. Sometimes.
I got into it a while back with my wife because she was watching some Oprah special and they were talking about Maya Angelou and how she is the ‘best poet alive today’. Bullshit. The best poet alive today is some socially-retarded, misanthropic guy with coke bottle glasses who dresses all in black and works in a book store when he isn’t planning suicide attempts. This is what I told my wife. She told me I was an idiot. She is usually right.
Maya Angelou is an impressive woman. She writes well. She presents herself well. Is she the best poet in the world? Well, that depends on how you define best. And, opinions are opinions. Point being, the fact that someone thinks she is the best should not affect me in the least.
We have chosen to embark on a thankless journey. I have spent half my life writing and the thrill of seeing my byline wore off in a few weeks. The thrill of publishing a novel wore off as fast. Winning contests is great…for a day or two. We plod on, God knows why, but we do. And we do it together. And it doesn’t matter who the best is. What matters is that we are in it together and we need to support each other. And if that means “being a better person” (vomit), so be it.
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