The other day, I posted my own personal “rules” about supporting other writers when they publish books. I got a lot of nice feedback about what a nice person I am and how nice it is that I support my fellow writers when something nice happens to them.
I’m not that nice. Oh, I do all of that stuff I said I do, but I also have my less-nice side. Witness: Yesterday I got an email from a friend who is a fledgling playwright. She had just received news that a fellow fledgling playwright was having her first work staged by a desirable company.
My friend wrote: "While I'm happy to report that I'm really thrilled for her, I just can't figure out why I'm now not so motivated to write."
To which I replied: Well, I know why. Here are just a few reasons, culled from my personal excuse library. Borrow at will. You are suddenly unmotivated to write, upon hearing of your writing friend’s success, because you are….jealous, envious, enraged, miffed, amazed (in a mean way), tired, tired of everything, suddenly tired of what you're writing, bored with everything, bored with the project, not confident, lazy, ambivalent, procrastinating, distracted, would rather watch TV or distract yourself online/cooking/eating/shopping, muse is on vacation, writing project seemed like a good idea at the time but now it seems stupid / lame / transparent / derivative, more fun to read what someone else wrote, can't escape thoughts that one will never be able ever again to write anything of value.
Listen, when I hear about a writer friend getting…an agent / a lovely book deal / a freelance job I wanted / a great teaching position / a new editing client with 600 pages and deep pockets / $3 a word for an article… I am simultaneously happy for my friend and also momentarily (occasionally not so momentarily) want to slash his or her tires. AND I also go into a non-writing-funk. I run through all the reasons in my mind why it should have been me. Why it will never be me. Why, even if it were me, it wouldn’t work out somehow.
Then, I eat some dark chocolate and get on with things. First thing: congratulate the friend. Nicely. Often, mean it.