I normally can’t bear writing advice, except for the only thing I have ever listened to from a writer whose name I forget: If you want to be a good writer, write. I have a book called ‘A Novel IN A Year’ that remains barely opened, and yet I managed to complete a (short) novel in nine months. And I doubt EM Forster or Virginia Woolf took ‘writing advice’.
BUT having said that I absolutely loved this vlog by Betty Herbert at Hope and Anchor.
The first in a series, Betty offers us a ‘mantra for a creative life’: ‘Other people do not have success at my expense.’ In other words: beware the green-eyed monster of jealousy. It can stifle your creativity and make you miserable. In the video Betty tells us very frankly how when she was getting into writing in her 20s, she physically couldn’t read novels due to her jealousy of the authors’ ‘success’. She then goes on to unpack the idea of success, which can mean very different things to different people.
In the spirit of Betty’s honesty, I’d like to admit that I have felt some envy of Betty herself. She created a brilliant blog called The 52 Seductions, about her and her husband rekindling their sex life after some years of drought, or at least, dissatisfaction. The blog was turned into a book, and so she is now one of those published authors she used to hate!
Now I write it down, I am not really sure what I was ‘jealous’ of- her publishing deal? The originality of her idea? Her happy marriage? Her ability to face her fears and make videos of herself? Her positive outlook on sex and relationships? These are all things I admire! But I did get haunted by the green eyed monster at one point. I didn’t need to watch Betty’s video to be rid of it in her case, she is far too lovely to be jealous of for long.
But her words do serve as a reminder to me, to catch myself in the act of feeling negative feelings towards other writers, when they have success. Or even just when they write something brilliant. I am continually inspired by amazing writers and I know nearly all of them struggle for any kind of recognition in this competitive era. So I try and put my own insecurities aside and celebrate when they do well, and to see it as a positive. If they can do it, why can’t I? And do I want to ‘do well’ in the same way as other people anyway?
I still can’t bear JK Rowling though. Some people take success too far!
Betty’s Blog: http://bettyherbert.com/