Saturday, January 17, 2009

professional jealousy

I was going to put up pictures of my Utah trip, but alas, Techno Bob is on a scout camp-out with one of the offspring, and I am pathetically unable to upload pictures onto my blog. (And no, I don't know how to work my cell phone or our DVD player either. I have mastered the toaster, even though it came with three additional buttons that didn't used to be on our older, less techno-savvy toaster. Seriously, the new one has a cancel button--I suppose for people who change their mind about making toast and want to retrieve their uncrispened bread, yet have never figured out how to flip the toast lever up.)

However an interesting subject came up on one of the writers' lists I'm on. Someone who hasn't seen any nibbles on their novel was bemoaning the fact that a high school friend submitted a book to an agent and two weeks later had a contract.

Yeah, that happens. And it's hard.

I remember how badly I wanted to be published. It wasn't just a want--like you want ice cream, or you want that new dress. It was an actual physical ache that I couldn't really explain to anyone else or to myself.

Pre-published authors tend to see that book contract--or better yet, that fresh new book--as the finish line: the accomplishment of the goal.

It's not though. It's just the beginning.

And that whole jealousy/want cycle doesn't end when you get published.

Once you're published you'll have friends that get this award or that award, or the book tour, or that speaking engagement, or that movie deal, or that Newbery, or hit the bestsellers list, or um, get constantly compared to J.K. Rowling. (And yes, in fact I did know both Shannon Hale and Stephenie Meyer before they became ultra-famous.) And I don't think any of us want our friends not to do well, we're thrilled when they do, we just feel a little left behind.

For me, I've decided that it's much more important for there to be good literature out there for kids than it is for me to be famous/rich/compared to JK Rowling. I have a good life, a wonderful family, a husband who loves me and who thankfully can support our family. I have no cause at all to complain. So I can applaud the success of all of the authors that I love and realize that all gifts (talents) no matter how big or how small are equally important if we're striving to make the world a better place. It's like the parable of the widow's mite. I may only have two pence to contribute but it's still enough.

31 comments:

Weston Elliott said...

I just love reading your blog! Your comments about the toaster cracked me up - our's doesn't let you just flip up the handle, you have to hit the "cancel" button. Talk about overcomplicating a simple concept!

I also appreciate your candor about jealousy - that's a good thing to realize early in one's career. i have one friend that, I honestly think, would never speak to me again if I got published first. Much as I love my friend, I'm not going to let that stop me from trying!

Anonymous said...

Wow Janette i'm way impressed by that statement! and that is exactly why you should keep writing young adult literature and NOT switch full time to fantasy. Seriously, if you're gone then who else am i supposed to read?! Think of yourself as a lighthouse, a rock, in a sea of changing values. A lone beacon to tired weary hopeless readers who are sick of bad teen fiction. And yes that is incredibly cheesy but hey if it works!

TruBlu93 said...

My mom is the same way when it comes to technology and electronics, but she is learning.. lol.

That must have sucked for the someone of which you speak but they just need to keep putting themselves out there. Who's to say one day they're not ganna be the next big thing?

Janette Rallison said...

Don't worry, I'm sure my editor at Putnam AKA the bow-tied one, will not let me switch entirely to fantasy. He's stubborn that way.

Janette Rallison said...

And that's the thing about life. You never know what's right around the corner. Even JK Rowling got rejected . . .as did most really successful writers.

Nerd Goddess said...

Well, I have a nice story for you!

I went into the BYU bookstore yesterday and saw several of your books, so I picked up a copy of "How to take the Ex out of Ex-Boyfriend" and at the register. The girl working the register thought it looked interesting, and asked if your books were available at the Library, which they are, and I told her so. So not only did I get to buy one of your books, I also got to recommend them to someone!

Besides, loyal fans are way better than mindless fan-girl zombies. Right?

Anonymous said...

I love your books! I recommened them to all the ladies in my book club (not just the ones with teenage girls) word of mouth spreads and you are famouse among those of us who love to laugh out loud when we read! your books make reading fun. thanks for your two cents :) :) :)

Lillian Syville said...

Our Toaster Has the cancle button and three other buttons that aren't labled. I havent worked up the courage to push any of them, which is silly because really its a toaster for goodness sake.

Melanie J said...

Right now, I feel jealous of ANYONE who's published! I so badly want to join those ranks. IT's not even in my reality that it won't happen, so I sure hope it does, because I haven't pictured anything else.

Erin Edwards said...

Please don't tell me I won't be happy when I get published, cause I really, really, want to be (both published and happy.) :)

On another note, after going over some older posts I missed: Please keep writing happy books! To see what's being assigned in school to read, I'm reading my 5th graders list of assigned books and the three topics the books come from are:"a boy and his dog" (and the dog dies in all the books), the civil war, and the holocaust. Really, where does the idea come from that it's not a good book unless you cry? Just looking at this stack of books has me depressed! This is 5th grade for goodness sakes. Aren't they young enough to have a little fun?

Janette Rallison said...

Sigh. I know exactly what you mean. We would be so much better off if we taught kids that reading was fun. Maybe they'd want to do more of it and less of Playstation. (There is very little crying associated with Playstation.)

Janette Rallison said...

Thanks to all of you who are recommending my books! What great fans I have (as opposed to fan-girl zombies).

Valerie Ipson said...

I appreciated your thoughts. We are blessed to be part of a writing organization where everyone cheers everyone else on...and even more than that, we help each other with connections and critiquing.

Kristi Stevens said...

I'm not sure how I feel about the book deal as being the beginning. What kind of masochistic career is this writing business?

I guess writers need to be find pleasure in the process.

Anna Maria Junus said...

Sigh, even being published doesn't mean success.

And I think it's harder when in my case I am the breadwinner for the family and I'm not winning any bread.

So, yes, I admit it, I'm jealous, but frankly I'm jealous of anyone who's able to put bread on the table.

Keri Mikulski said...

So true, Janette! Great post.

Lenore said...

You made my world a happier place while I was reading My Fair Godmother. Thank you for that!

chan said...

I love your books! Seriously? They don't have enough YA books out there that are clean, fun, and such wonderful stories like yours. I really enjoy your books, and hope you write more. I just finished My Fair Godmother, and it was fantastic! My sister and I both love your books and recommend them all the time. As for getting published. Someday hopefully. Even if I don't, I will at least have some fun stories to pass around my family, and it makes me happy to write!:) Thanks for the awesome post!

Jaime Theler said...

Wow. That's such a great attitude. I hope I grow up to be just like you, Janette! btw I'm touting My Fair Godmother to everyone I know. Seriously, awesome book! I loved it!

Asenath said...

just keep swimming... :)

Melinda said...

I don't think professional jealousy is exclusive to the writing world. Take for example the look on Angelina Jolie's face when Anne Hathaway won best female actress of the year. If looks could kill...
And Angelina is at the top of her game.

Author Dandi Mackall, who taught at BYU writer's conference 2007 told us: enjoy the good moments when they happen, because there are more than enough disappointments.

But, then, who am I to talk because I haven't finshed my novel yet to be disappointed in rejection. :-)

Julie Wright said...

Janette, I needed this reminder. I have left behind on many fronts. It's like going to summer camp and finding out you're in a different cabin than all your friends, which means you have to sit with other people during lunch and activities, all the while staring longingly at the other side of the camp where all your friends are playing and laughing and having fun.

It's hard not to feel left out and left behind. It's not that you don't want your friends to be happy. Of course you do. You just want to be in the same cabin, giggling right along beside them. At least that is how it is for me. I feel like I got stuck in the isolation cabin sometimes. :)

Shari said...

I so enjoy reading your blog. I am sooooooooo sad that I missed you when you were at the SCBWI Meeting in Salt Lake last week. Especially since I pride myself on stalking you whenever possible. I murmured all evening as I thought of you speaking there while I ran children from one thing to the next. *sigh*

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I love how honest you are about jealousy and how it effects friendships before and after publication. I'm not published yet, but just the fact that a publishing company was interested in one of my manuscripts was enough to have one of my friends in fits & complaining that I didn't have enough time for her anymore. Jealousy really is a green-eyed monster!

Pink Ink said...

I would be green-eyed too if a friend nabbed an agent after two weeks.

But, I agree with you. We must be thankful for our blessings. There are plenty! And if we focus on that, the journey will be more enjoyable.

Jen Seegmiller said...

I never considered that this aching want and discouragement were permanent fixtures of this writerly life I'm working towards. The kicker is that a lot of well-meaning friends and family say things like, "Just do it like Stephenie Meyer. She wrote her book, found an agent, and was published within a year." Right. Very helpful advice. As if it's that easy. Her Cinderella tale is the EXCEPTION for crying out loud. If I could figure out how to navigate the publishing world that simply, I would. But it seems like I have to do things the hard way. Nothing is ever handed to me on a silver platter. Actually, if you see my fairy godmother, tell her that's my wish - a big fat publishing contract on a silver platter.

Cheryl said...

Dude. Right now I'm jealous of anyone who can FINISH their novels. Le Sigh.

However, if it helps, I have also recommended your books everywhere --and since I own most of them, I lend them out like crazy. And you know who seems to love them the most? Mothers like me! They talk about how hilarious you are (laughing so hard they cry), and it makes me feel good I've recommended something so awesome. :) Of course, I've never given your books to teenagers, so maybe my whole "who likes them the best" is completely skewed. Huh.

Anyway, Janette, you rock. And I'm proud of you for the widow's mite. That's all I can wish for at this point, and it's good to know that it's okay not to be JK Rowling.

Allison said...

I have recently started my own blog, and I am looking into writing a novel. I will be graduating from college in May, and I was just wondering if you had any advice for me! Thanks!

Anna said...

Just between you and me, i like your books better than shannon hale's and stephenie meyer's put together!
It's true i did like twilight, until the fourth one came out, then it just went down the drain, i was really despointed that a mormon writer would put that junk in her book! arg!

Anyway, I read 'My Fair Godmother' and i loved it!! ^_^ did you get the picture that i drew of it/? i'll send it again, if you didnt. Even if the other two have lots of fans, they dont have one fan that you do. ^_^

shannon hale said...

I so agree! But I have to protest the "ultra-famous" label to myself. Slap it on Stephenie--when you sell 17 million books in four years, there's no tiptoeing around the ultra-famous label. But that's not me, baby. I find periodically I have to recenter myself and remind myself, it's about the story. That's all that matters. Finding the story and the words to tell it, and the next story and the words to tell that, and everything else is candy.

Congrats on your option! I am option-less, so who's the ultra-famous one day, J-dog?!

Janette Rallison said...

Shannon is modestly not adding that Barbie wanted to make a movie of Princess Academy.

I will know I've hit the big time when Mattel wants to imortalize my characters!