Saturday, June 03, 2006

Age appropriate

In a discussion about envy on Skint Writer's blog, I sat in the garden this morning and mulled over my comments. Do I have 'writer envy', honestly, and if not, then why not?

Envy is a strong word, a sin according the 'seven deadlies'. Should I have some, will it make me a better writer? Have I set my goals too low, should envy be a motivator? Help, I'm going round in circles.

I think age has something to do with this conundrum. I already have a career that I am (mostly) sucessful at. Writing came late. Like a lot of people, after personal tragedies, I looked for ways to express myself and the keyboard came looking for me. I never thought that I would just keep going and I was delighted when I had written 90,000 words and realised that it was novel length. It was crap, but I had fallen in love with my own words.

Age has given me a confidence that I didn't have in my twenties, nor possibly in my thirties. Life experiences have brought me screaming into my forties and given me a gift that I realise that many will never be given. I can admire other writers and appreciate their writing gifts. I feel only warmth when I hear that someone has made it.
I am, in short, at peace with myself and at peace with my writing. I have ambition, but it is only for me, myself and I!


Unknown said...

I'm still mulling about this envy thing too. I'm halfway through that granta article but I need to see where it's going. Will it be envy or jealousy? I think there is a difference between the two. According to the VED (Verilion English Dictionary) jealousy is something we wish we had or could do ourselves, but on reflection we realise we are jealous and give ourselves a kick up the backside and get on with it. Envy on the other hand is more malicious and damaging both to the person who feels it and to whom it is directed towards. I've cross-referenced with some more reliable sources and the two words are very close, but perhaps if you are not feeling envious it's your take on the word and how you define it in the first place. Maybe that's where we need to start from before we get to the crux of the argument. OOh all this thinking and I was supposed to be having a lazy day!

Unknown said...

Mmm, me too, am just working my way up to putting on some heels to practice for tonight's annual, (ghastly) dinner and dance. Have to practice otherwise will fall flat on face.
Come to think of it will fall flat on face whatever due to copious ammounts of beverage consumed to blot out footballer's wives. Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!

Anonymous said...

Oi - stop nicking my topics or I'll have the Blog Police on to you - oops, you are the Blog Police . . .

Ah well - power corrupts

But then again, thanks for the link

Lee said...

Hm ... I always use jealousy when loss, real or potential, is implied: jealous of a rival for your partner's affections etc.; and envy more for something not yet - or never to be - had: envy of someone's wealth, power, genius, etc. But the two are often used interchangeably.

Minx, I'm impressed by your sanity. A friend - a therapist - explained to me that envy (jealousy?) had to do with the qualities that exist potentially in ourselves, our own gifts, but are as yet unrealised. And it's true that I'm not particularly envious of a great diva or tennis star!

The Chetkovich essay adds another important dimension, gender politics.

Unknown said...

I didn't nick your topic Skint, I have enriched it!!

And Lee, therapists are full of good suggestions, well no, usually they are 'self' suggestions if you in therapy. What I mean is that you have to come to your own conclusions, find yourself in the world and have faith that your writing is better than anyone else's anyway!!

Marie said...

I agree about the confidence thing - I never had any when I was younger, which is why I failed in a lot of things. It wasn't until I was in my mid-thirties that I started getting confident and it's been slowly building as I approach my 40s. As for jealousy, I'm not jealous of those who obviously have the talent and have worked hard towards their goal - they clearly deserve it. But what about the likes of Victoria Beckham and Jordan?

Maxine Clarke said...

I am biphasically confident. Either totally lacking it, or totally having it.
But this is about envy and I find this a confusing topic and don't know what I feel about it.
I suppose my instinct is that if I were happy I would not feel envy of anything or anyone, but I don't know if that's true. Or, indeed, if I am envious of anyone. I don't think I envy anyone who has achieved anything. I sometimes envy people generically (not as individuals) for being blessed with things I don't have, eg not size 9 feet so they can buy lovely shoes whereas I can't, or good health, that type of thing.

Debi said...

Good stuff, Minx & co.
The key to feeling good methinks is to look neither up nor down. ie not to envy others who appear to have MORE of whatever it is you think you want (who knows what it's truly like to walk in someone else's shoes?) At the same time I find that the thought that someone might actually envy ME is really quite frightening - and occasionally laugh out loud funny. Only I know what it's like to walk in MY shoes ...
I agree it's only as you get older that you finally get to accept who you are and feel ok about it. (The alternative is too bitter to contemplate.)
But why does it have to happen at the same time your eyebrows and lashes get more sparse and seem to slide down your face onto your chin? Hmmm? Can you answer that?