I went to bed one night last week and I cried for awhile. I'm almost ashamed to admit why.
OK, that's a lie. I'm not ashamed and I'll admit to anything really.
Embarrassment is for suckers and shame is for people who read Fifty Shades of Grey and think that's good writing.
I refuse to carry around all my bad feelings and let them eat away at me from the inside out.
Not so long ago, my mom said something about my grandfather and my great-grandmother both dying of stomach cancer and I had this realization that that could be the thing that kills me. Not to be morbid, but I have wondered what the thing will be. It's going to be something. In that moment, I thought, "Oh, that's it. Makes total sense."
But here's the thing about the thing that might kill me: I refuse to help it along. So I'm not going to carry things around in my stomach, churning around and spreading acid. Nope. I like to purge that stuff.
Literary vomit, if you will.
Anyway, the reason I was crying the other night was this: I was filled up with envy. I was choking on it.
I saved a quote someone posted on Facebook.
Isn't it ironic that you can find that little bit of wisdom in the same place where you are most likely to find all the stuff you can choke on?
No, I'm asking you. That's irony, right? I've been so confused about irony ever since Alanis Morissette wrote that song about lots of things that aren't at all ironic, like rain on your wedding day and bugs in your wine and ten thousand spoons. Who the fuck has ten thousand spoons?
But I digress.
Choke on this: Promotions. Proposals. Trips. Concerts. New cars. Relationship status changes. Photos with celebrities.
OK, so all this I can handle. I mean, whatever. I've been proposed to. I've been promoted. I've been on trips. I've been to concerts. Been there, done that. (Although, I should admit it's been a long time since any of those things happened.)
But I once met Ice T, for God's sake! Your celebrity meetings will never top that. Nope. Never.
Then I read a friend's post about being hard at work on her second book, publishing deal already in place.
Too much. Straw. Camel.
I went to bed and cried.
I felt like a sad mess and a failure.
It's pathetic but, hell, I can't be the only one who is eaten up with envy sometimes.
I could read a thousand posts about boyfriends who propose and cars and promotions, but toss a book deal on the heap and I'm too filled up with the green poison to stop myself from a little self-indulgent sob-fest.
After I got it out of my system, I remembered that Anne Lamott has an entire chapter devoted to just this topic in her brilliant book Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. The chapter is titled "Jealousy."
"...the public herd mentality is not swayed by the magic that happens when mind and heart and muse and hand and paper work together. Rather, it is guided by talk shows and movie producers and TV commercials. Still, you'd probably like the caribou herd to run in your direction for a while. Most of us secretly want this. But maybe the herd is going to stuff itself on lichen and then waddle after some really undeserving writers instead. Those writers will get the place on the best-seller list, the movie sales, the huge advances, and the nice big glossy pictures in the national magazines where the photo editors have airbrushed out the excessively long eyeteeth, the wrinkles, and the horns. The writer you most admire in the world will give them rave reviews in the Times or blurbs for the paperback edition. They will buy houses, big houses, or second houses that are actually as nice, or nicer, than the first ones. And you are going to want to throw yourself down the back stairs."
God, I love Anne Lamott. I have this fantasy that she will write a blurb for my book that no agent currently believes they can sell.
Sometimes I see her blurbs on the back of other people's books.
I don't have any back stairs, thankfully.
So what, you ask, does any of this have to do with George Clooney? It's Clooney Tuesday, dammit.
Well, here's a photo of Stacy Keibler riding George's bike.
That's not a euphemism. Here's the photo:
And here George is carrying towels for their boat ride on Lake Como:
And here is the absolute truth:
I do not envy Stacy Keibler. Not really. I don't want to be some lame-ass, temporary girlfriend of George Clooney, some chick with a lackluster career who has to follow a man around the globe. I'm way too alpha-female for that. Honestly, my most recurring fantasy involves me and George meeting because I'm a hugely successful writer and us being excellent friends.
No, I don't envy the girlfriends. (OK, maybe a little.) I mostly envy George. My total fangirl love of George is based on the fact that I want to be the female George Clooney. I want people to pay me to do what I love to do. I want to be charming and funny in interviews and...
I want people to PAY ME TO DO WHAT I LOVE. (I just felt like repeating that.)
I am not a writer who hates writing. Would you be surprised to know there are a lot of them out there? No, I am a writer who loves writing. I want to immerse myself in it. I want to get lost in the ideas. I want, like a long-distance swimmer, to surround myself with the beautiful weight of something that turns the rest of the world into white noise. If you see me with pen and paper or at my laptop, that's what I'm doing. I'm diving into the damn ocean. I'm swimming. I'm a freaking mermaid of words, people.
And while people are paying me to do what I love and heaping praise on me ('cause I'm the people-pleasing oldest child of divorce and I like validation, my friends), I want to float along Lake Como and make out with hotties and meet Michelle Obama and have people listen when I talk about causes in which I believe.
Plus, I seriously doubt George ever cries himself to sleep at night.
I really envy that man. I envy him so much that I'd like to invite him over for some day drinking and a make-out session.
|It ain't easy bein' green.|
And I want somebody to publish my book.
"Jealousy is one of the occupational hazards of being a writer, and the most degrading. And I, who have been the Leona Helmsley of jealousy, have come to believe that the only things that help ease or transform it are (a) getting older, (b) talking about it until the fever breaks, and (c) using it as material." - Anne Lamott
Buy this book:
Read about how I call Rick Bragg names.