Writing Envy Redux & My Dog Lucy Is Writing A Book!



My hound Lucy looks twice as focused as this dog when she spots a fly!



I’ve written before about my writing envy

And while I’d love to rhapsodize how much brilliant writing inspires me to better my craftor exclaim how thrilled I was when my friend’s debut novel hit the New York Times Best Seller list, I won’t. 

I’ve been reading such incredible books and blogs lately. When I looked at my Seroquel belly this morning, it was a rippling, verdant hue. 🙂 

During the years I was mired in bipolar depression, I couldn’t care less about others’ writing because I no longer felt human. I abandoned the freelance writing relationships I had nurtured, but what hurt the most was that my writing identity vanished.

When I had the great fortune to find a psychiatrist who suggested an “out-of-thebox” medication, my depression lifted. In late 2013 I resumed writing and began blogging. And I remembered someone I used to be friends with in junior high named Aimee Bender.  

We weren’t very close, but we shared a mutual love for books. On a whim, I sent a photograph of us to my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle. A couple months later, L’Engle mailed me a postcard with a picture of the Milky Way. (A fitting image to represent the author of A Wrinkle In Time.) L’Engle wrote few lines thanking me, and added, “I always enjoy seeing what my readers look like.” I treasure her postcard and keep it near my laptop.

Toward the end of junior high, Aimee and I lost touch. Thank God no drama was involved in our parting – we simply went our separate ways and I wished her well. 

In 2011 Aimee’s book The Girl in the Flammable Skirt was published, and it received rave reviews along with the Los Angeles Times best seller status. I bought it and while I found the book unique, it didn’t wasn’t my taste. I was envious of Aimee’s success, but it was a fleeting feeling. 

Recently I checked the internet to find out about Aimee’s most recent book. Her writing career is nothing short of amazing: a prolific output of books, heaps of awards, a book made into a film, a cult following, fancy teaching positions, healthy twins at age 43, a relatively good-sounding marriage, etc. The one thing she didn’t seem to have was a severe mental illness.  That’s the day I knew it was time to stop following her accomplishments! 

My literary envy is often triggered when I can’t put down a compelling book that’s so beautifully written it makes me wish I had written it. I finished such a memoir last night. As with any intense, engaging book I immerse myself in, I was sad to reach the last page. 

To Have Not is about the author’s life growing up poor in San Francisco. It was written by my upcoming Catamaran Writing Conference instructor Frances Lefkowtiz. To Have Not is an unforgettable, lyrically written memoir.

You could say that I’m a wee bit envious of the gifted Lefkowtiz. 


Despite the intimidation I’ll feel in the presence of this accomplished writer, I’d rather have a fantastic nonfiction instructor than a mediocre one.  More than anything, I’m incredibly grateful that I won the fellowship award to attend her class.

What helps me grapple with my nasty emerald bits is reading insightful posts by those who expose their writing jealousy. Today I found a refreshingly honest post about this very topic! Acclaimed author Robin Black reveals the not-so-nice parts of herself after her writer friends hit the literary lotto. Interestingly, Black discusses how bestselling authors possess cases of the envies just like the neophytes do. She includes original advice on how to handle waves of envy, and trust me, her post is definitely worth the read.

Happily, I didn’t get consumed with jealousy over Robin Black’s talent. Well, I wouldn’t mind having one or two of the achievements listed on her bio; they’re nothing major, really…I mean, being published in small rags like the New York Times Magazine and receiving several major grants is not that big a deal.  


On a separate note, you might be wondering about my collie Lucy’s blossoming writing career. Well, being a goofball, I thought I’d touch upon another phenomenon that freaks me out: the fact that almost everyone I encounter is writing a book, even my beloved beast.

With her two furry paws bursting with creativity, Miss Lucy has already amassed 80,000 words about her life. 



With the enormous amount of books being published annually, sometimes I wonder what’s the point of adding my book to the mix. Will Birth of a New Brain truly help anyone or is it primarily a quest to massage my ego? 

Although I believe these are totally normal thoughts, I must kick them to the curb.

I can reflect upon this gem of a mood booster: 

If books such as Reusing Old Graves, Why Cats Paint, Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad (Arch Books – Quality Religious Books for Children), Make Your Own Sex Toys, The Bitch Who Forgot Birthdays, and the page turner Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns can be published, then my book has a place in our world!

I remind myself that my book will be a worthwhile read. I’m writing for a niche market, with absolutely no aspirations of having it become a bestseller. Madeleine L’Engle said, “You must write the book that wants to be written…” and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

So what if there are trillions of books out in the world?

It’s okay.

So what if  countless writers possess such off-the-hook talent that I feel odious by comparison?

It’s okay.

It’s not easy being green, but at least I’m not alone…

* Lithium and tranylcypromine/Parnate (an MAOI, which stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitor)



Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of  Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016. 

35 thoughts on “Writing Envy Redux & My Dog Lucy Is Writing A Book!

  1. Lady, you know, I have learnt just so much since I started blogging and publishing dem memoirs. For one, I have andk eep learning tons about ME. For two, I honestly write for ME, about ME, and well I hope it means something too to anyone but ME. I have also thought about what it’ll be if I went on a literary rampage in a quest to make “bestseller or big bucks” ( u sure know what I mean), yet I wonder if that’ll take me any further my ‘quest for happiness lane’ ? And so in the meab time, I go by Maya Angelou’s definition of success and clain myself one 🙂

  2. There will always be someone more X (fill in the blank). Hard not to compare ourselves, though, isn’t it? Frances Lefkowitz is not a mother and does not have bipolar. Aimee Bender didn’t become a mother until she was in her 40’s and again does not have bipolar disorder.

    I recently finished Lefkowitz’s memoir. Loved it! Haven’t finished writing a brief review yet, but I did give it 5 stars. Have a great time at Catamaran! Love you!!!

    • Oh, my lovely one, if I didn’t birth the rug rats ’til I was 43, (not to mention be decimated by a little piece-of-crapola called bipolar) who knows what I would shoulda coulda written. It’s a moot point. And who knows – maybe she has a mood disorder and keeps it secret, as some women I know must do in order to keep their jobs.

      I just started using Goodreads yesterday (I joined a long time ago but didn’t use it) and I was thrilled to note that you gave Frances Lefkowitz’s book “To Have Not” five stars!!! I’m so happy you read it – I’m going to review it too.

      One last thing: the article I mentioned written by Ms. Black was truly excellent and it helped absolve me of some guilt for my envy. I must admit that I enjoyed her naming names and how she didn’t sugarcoat her true feelings. She wasn’t slandering anyone (Black wrote that Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan is her friend & they’ve had dinner, etc.) and that’s what I wanted to do with mentioning Aimee Bender by name in this post, unlike in my previous one. I have no ill will towards her at all; she was very sweet way back in the 80’s. LOVE YOU TOO! :)))) Thanks for stoppin’ by and for always lifting my spirits. XOXO

    • I think Frances is a mom! Of a boy! Your freaky friend here read up on her interviews and bios and found out. While she suffered with depression, which she described so well in her book (You picked out a great depression quote of hers on Goodreads, methinks) she did not mention having bp.

      Then again, the whole point of a memoir is that one picks and chooses events etc.,and not everything is mentioned like it is with an autobiography – in other words, technically yes, she could have bipolar but have chosen not to write about it.

      • I see… Well, then… Never mind what I wrote about her success. Anyway… We are all unique with our own life path. You are walking and writing your journey, as I am mine.

  3. Oh, I feel your pain on the green with envy thing! Oh it can burn! I finished my first novel at 15, a 176 page behemoth, and started sending it off at 16, when Christopher Paolini happened. He did Eragon, you may have heard of it? I guess if your parents own a publishing business you can be 15 and publish a novel and critically acclaimed like he was. Of course, it’s clear when you read it with a teacher’s eye (the one that knows when the parents did their child’s homework) that it’s been heavily “edited” (read: re-written) by an experienced adult. I was the greenest green of all the greens. I was very disillusioned not to be the youngest ever writer with the greatest ever books etc etc… It actually stopped me writing. Then they made his books into a film and I felt even more jealous. I gave up because how can you outdo people with such a head start? Then, years later, just before I started teacher training, I knew I had to get my work out there. So I sent off an erotic novel, and I realized that I didn’t actually want to be a bestseller, because when you read any book on the bestseller lists, it’s always bland, always written in a particular “way” and while the plot usually has some good twists, the characters are generally utterly predictable and normal (or rather, abnormal enough that people identify with them). My current theory is that the vast majority of people have no taste at all, and that being popular in your own time is a bad sign – take 50 Shades of Grey. My books are WAY better (but then, so is your dog’s novel. My class of special needs kids could have written a better book) but my stuff won’t be as popular because of that very fact – I published through a publisher who is only findable to people with specific interests, and they would never have published her work because it’s unrepresentative and inaccurate. I don’t think I’d want a literature prize; as Terry Pratchett (one of my idols) once said, “they accused me of literature” (not me, but I’d be uncomfortable if they did) I don’t think it would fit me at all. I like the anonymity that no-one has any idea what I’ve written because I can say what I want and don’t get cross phone calls from aunts demanding to know how dare I write about X Y or Z (they’re just cross about regular stuff). For me, the best approval is good reviews on Amazon/elsewhere. I don’t know who said it (it was in a murder mystery), but “you’re not a writer until you’ve published your fourth novel” sits in my mind a lot at the moment – my number three is finding a publisher right now (I had creative differences over royalties with my last publisher – they were being creative with excuses for not paying them) and I even translate my spellings and idioms into American English these days, but I still don’t feel like a writer or call myself one except in the context of looking for advice. That was long but I guess I’m trying to say that there will always be someone who seems to be doing better – but they will never have your unique style, voice, and sense of humor. After all, what’s Christopher Paolini doing now? He’s got a world record, a bunch of cash, and he’s got a Wikipedia page that’s barely more than a stub (references include his own Twitter account, so guess who wrote it). And he’s not written anything else since. By contrast, you and I are up and coming, and we have soul, so you know our Wikipedia pages will be long one day.

      • It was fascinating to read about your experiences! I totally loved reading your comment & I’m grateful you shared your real feelings about that spoiled prodigy – sorry if that seems harsh, but, oh well. It sounds like the truth.

        I wish happiness for all beings but I can’t help (well, not much) my “Jealousy Factor”. Sounds like the title of a new TV reality show, eh? It could be a prank-style TV show in which the producers find someone who is jealous of another person, and they create an elaborate bogus fairy tale situation for one of them and then they tape the other’s reaction. Sick and twisted? Yes! I think that this idea (if you can even call it that!) is occurring to me as my daughter made me watch a crazy reality show last night called “Mystery Diners” in which an “expert” catches restaurant employees doing rather unethical things. How’s that for a total ramble?

        P.S. I am SUPER-impressed with your writing career!!!!!!!! I want to know more about it – can you write a blog post for your followers about what you’re up to at the present? Perhaps you already wrote one. Please help yours truly by providing more info. when you can! :))))

      • Eek I’ll try to write one although I’ll do it once number three gets approved by someone. I will point out that erotic fiction is the only area of literature that gets published virtually no questions asked, so I haven’t got a winning formula for mainstream success (although if I ever do, I’ll pass it on).
        I love that idea for a TV show, we need more imaginative TV concepts. In the UK we have “come dine with me” (I don’t know if it’s in the US), it’s a reality TV show where four people get invited to one another’s dinner parties. It’s the most utterly preposterous thing but it’s apparently quite popular.

      • Only write a post if you feel like it my dear – no pressure – that TV show you mentioned sounds ZZzzzzzz boring! Now, maybe if they all did it in the nude… 😉

      • Yes that would be an improvement, especially if they set it all in Antarctica or under the sea or something, I’m sure that would be hilarious watching people in the buff trying to use cutlery carved from icicles.

    • Thanks so much,Sharon – I will definitely want to spill out my impressions of the conference, and I appreciate your lovely encouragement SO SO much! Take care and I’ll “see” you over at your blog tonight – when I sleepily scanned my WordPress Reader this morning, I think I spotted one of your posts in my queue – yay!

  4. Every writer has his or her own story to tell and no one can tell yours they way you do. You are unique and authentic and that will transcend through the pages of your book to your readers. I understand the temptation to compare yourself to other writers but that’s a slippery slope. There will always be authors who write their stories eloquently. That doesn’t mean that you are any less of a writer or that they are any better than you, just different! (Plus I have a feeling you are a bit too judgmental of yourself. Your book is going to be incredible! )

    • I love you, SuperMommyofTwins! Maybe I should just read all these positive quotes every day, write them on neon colored post-its and paper my walls with them, or put their words into a song and sing it! (And you think I’m kidding… 😉 I’m sorry for another whinefest blog post, but hey – this is what goes through my mini pharmacy, a.k.a. my brain. I can’t thank you enough for lifting up my soul – your comments are super chocolatey. That’s very high praise. XOxo p.s. YOU are one fantastic, super-duper, creative, eloquent writer – you *are*!!!!!

  5. Hey sorry I haven’t been around, I’ll be back on track soon. Lovely post and I love the image of the laptop lapdog.

    • No worries my friend!!! I adore you no matter what, and always will, even if you go to the $ side. (And that’s saying a heluva lot!) I knew you’d like that image – the pup looks a bit like Lucy with the white stripe on the nose….p.s. you know, your writing should be in the New York Times. It’s just as good if not way better than what I read in the lithium article.

      • As long as you can keep writing, I won’t hold back with the gushatoriums 😉 !!!! The are facts more than anything else, and NYT readers would benefit from any articles you submit to them.

  6. Dyane, i was just actually thinking of u and your book earlier today (since i’ve been out of the loop lately w/ the blogs i follow, and am now getting back on track) and wondering how it’s coming along. i love how you’re so honest about the envy and comparison of yourself towards other writers — i feel the same way about other bloggers! esp certain fashion bloggers who can get away w/ writing the most thoughtless posts and not so cute outfits yet still get tons of hits/views lol. u have a unique niche that not many people can provide nor write about and that’s what will make u stand out among the masses! 🙂

    • Hello Dr. V! Thanks for asking about the book – that’s awesome! It’s squeaking along because ever since my girls got out of school, I rarely have chunks of quiet time to write. (If they are around, I can’t focus, & I can’t get up early or stay up late like I used to – it’s a combination of medication side effects and laziness!) Hopefully I’ll make much more progress next week as they’ll be in day camp for 2 weeks. Woo hoo! I have 220 pages but frankly this draft is a total mess.

      As far as fashion bloggers go it’s amazing how some of their content/photos is soooo mediocre, yet yep – they get the hits etc. Waaaaah!

      I also continue to marvel at how WordPress’ Fresh Pressed feature makes instant stars out of bloggers & sometimes the editors choose very boring posts.

      I wish they’d select YOUR BLOG! (And mine…haaaaaaa!)

      I’ll keep you posted of my progress (or lack thereof LOL) and thanks from the bottom of my heart for recognizing that I’m writing about a specialized topic that I pray will set me apart from the same-old, same-old bipolar books that are being published… they all seem to say the same thing and multiply like tribbles!

      • i know, i’d love to understand how to make it to “Freshly Pressed’ on here…but whatever, we’ll just focus on putting out our original content on our blog and what we love writing about. And yes, keep us posted on your progress! hope you’re able to get stuff done on your 2 weeks, but if a bit of relaxation is needed for a few of those days, then that should take priority first, then the content will follow!

      • Okay, I made the mistake of checking out a Freshly Pressed post today (The blog Put On Your Happy Face’s “A Letter To Myself About Getting Fat”) This blogger has 29 followers, and I swear it looks like it just started. She only has written 5 posts so far, and nothing too profound at that. I’m not saying her blog has a purpose – most blogs do – but it’s a babyblog!

        I’m sorry as I know this will make me sound like I’m Petty Patty (and I am!) but jeeze, you’d think that WordPress editors would choose established, faithful bloggers to feature for Freshly Pressed.

        Your blog has SO SO SO much to offer readers in comparison to a blog about beauty products and mild anxiety – it’s apples vs. champagne. Okay, vent over. For now! 😉

      • P.S. Ooops, I went back and read some comments to the beauty/anxiety blog. I guess her anxiety is not mild, and as a journalist she has had her writing published in newspapers…but still, she’s a neophyte as a WordPress blogger and I still feel the same way! 😉 I think it would fair they’d honor longtime bloggers by creating a minimum amount of time the blogger has been on WordPress in order for the blogger to be featured on Freshly Pressed, in my humble ‘lil opinion! The newbies can pay their dues and have their posts selected later on!

      • LOL Dyane, you’re hilarious! thanks so much for the love…how nice would it be to be recognized/featured! if only we understood the reasoning behind it all! i haven’t looked at the freshly pressed section in awhile…perhaps for the exact same reason u mentioned 🙂

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