There has been quite a bit of chatter about confidence, insecurity, jealousy, etc. Maggie appears to have started it all and Jackie, Carrie, and Karen were all inspired in one way or another to blog their thoughts. I've been avoiding sharing my thoughts, but I feel like diving in now (hope I don't drown).
Be prepared for a deep (long) post. If you can't swim, I don't recommend jumping in.
My thoughts . . .
Of Confidence (no, this isn't a Sir Francis Bacon essay)
First of all, I am not always confident, neither am I always insecure. In all honesty, I don't believe anyone is always one or the other. Before you jump down my throat (I have a sensitive gag reflex so I'm not sure how far you'd get anyway), let me explain.
You can have confidence and be confident about certain aspects in your life, but there is no way I'll believe you if you tell me you are a confident person all the time. You may be more confident than you are insecure, but you are both.
You have to be, and here's why (going all religious on you now). There is opposition in all things and this is the way the world was created. Look in your thesaurus or dictionary and you'll find a funny little word "antonym" which means (basically) opposite. Everything feeling has an opposite (in some form or another) and unless you've felt both, you wouldn't be able to recognize either.
Yeah, think about it. If you have never been insecure or lacked self confidence, you would never be able to know security and confidence. It's impossible to know how it feels to be confident if you've never felt insecure just as it's impossible to feel happy if you've never felt sad (unless you're a Vulcan or an android reading this, and then you've never felt any emotion . . . but you're not real anyway so you wouldn't be reading this).
While some people are confident most of the time, they've been insecure, and I believe they still have insecure moments to remind them how it feels. We are all this way or we'd never be able to relate to characters in books.
Emotions are the whole point of reading and writing. Why do we relate to a character? Because we see a little bit of ourselves in them. Otherwise, we wouldn't read the dang book in the first place. Often in our desire to escape our lives by reading about someone else's we really work through our own emotions and feelings. This is the mark of a good book and what I think we are all striving for when we tell a story (but this is fodder for another day).
There are different stages of emotion and while I could go into all of them, I won't (because this post is going to be long enough as it is). But I do want to give my opinion on jealousy.
Of Jealousy and Envy (still not Sir Francis Bacon)
According to Francine Prose (contributing editor to the Oxford American Thesaurus for Writers), jealousy used to have only a sexual or romantic connotation but has since become synonymous with envy. I agree with Francine Prose and I, too, believe they should remain separate so I can honestly say I've never been jealous of someone who got an agent/editor or a book deal. *grin*
However, I have been envious and I don't believe any author hasn't. That is not to say we can't still be thrilled and happy for the authors who get an agent/editor or book deal. We certainly can and do feel happiness and joy for them. They worked for it and struggled along the path to publication. But we all struggle along the same path, and it's perfectly acceptable to feel like, "dang, I wish it were me" or similar emotions.
Yes, that's right, I just said it was acceptable ,and I stand by it. Feel those emotions, let them depress you (you heard me)! These emotions are true and must be felt . . . but they must also be dealt with and this is where the problem occurs.
It's what you do with the emotions that makes the difference. If you choose to dwell on the negative aspect of envy, you will eventually fall into the pit of covetousness and this, my friends, is where it goes bad. Coveting can turn you bitter, angry, resentful, and a whole host of other really dark emotions.
On the other hand, if you use the envy to motivate yourself to try harder, to learn more, to improve your writing, it can be a positive thing. It can give you the determination to reach a goal. Seriously, why do we set goals in the first place? Because something inspired us. And if we are honest and really think about it, that "inspiration" was often motivated by envy in the form of "I want that" or "I can write that" or something similar . . . and those thoughts are forms of envy.
But, as I said, I truly believe you can be envious of another author's success and still be happy for them, but only if you keep a leash on your envy so it doesn't bite you (or someone close to you) in the . . . well, you know.
And now it's time to kick our legs back to the surface, take a deep breath and praise God (or whatever/whoever you worship) that we're still alive after diving into this post.