As I write this today, I’m in a bit of a funk. Nothing too alarming, mind you. In my true “T.M.I.” fashion, despite turning forty-four on Tuesday, I’m not hitting menopause yet. Hence, my monthly “adventure” is on its way. Apart from that, it was a rough morning dealing with our kids. They clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed. After dropping them off at school, I stepped in a small mountain of chicken poo and I tracked it all over our floors until I finally noticed it. On the brighter side of things, it’s helpful for me to blog while crabby, as writing is such a great catharsis. Plus I don’t have to cut a chunky check to either a psychiatrist or a therapist.
Anyway, these things I mentioned above are small matters. Whenever I glance at the news, I am reminded that life could be much worse. The fact that I’m keeping bipolar relapse at bay is enough of a cause for daily celebration.
So, what are the nasty bits, exactly? Well, I must begin with mentioning author Anthony Bourdain. One of his many books is titled The Nasty Bits. While his title refers to the edible parts of animals that most North Americans would never eat in their wildest dreams (tete de veau/calf’s head, anyone?), I thought of the title in relation to my pesky envy problem.
I have nasty bits of envy rising up frequently.
Over the past few months I’ve returned to writing regularly,both as a hobby (this blog) and for work (my book). While writing has been gratifying, I’ve become too caught up with author comparisons. Comparisons can be odious indeed. (I wish I could take credit for coining that phrase, but alas, it was created circa 1440 by John Lydgate.)
At least I’ve come to terms with the fact that my book, once published, will not become a bestseller. The subject matter I’m writing about isn’t mass market material, and I can accept that. I am writing the book that I wish I had when I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder, plain and simple. If it helps only a handful of readers, I’ll be totally thrilled!
I had a junior high school friend who went on to become a bestselling writer, a highly respected professor, and a winner of numerous mega-prestigious writing awards. Her fan base is massive and almost cult-like. One of her books was even made into a feature film with a “big name” star. While I’m happy for her, I’ll admit I’ve had pangs of green as well. I’m not going to name her because after my botched-blogging (discussed in yesterday’s post), I’m sure she would find this comment and rake me over some coals.
I keep reminding myself, “You are writing first and foremost for yourself. You are not writing to win a Pulitzer Prize.” One of my favorite authors Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle In Time) comes to mind. Wrinkle, which has had phenomenal success over the decades, was rejected by many a publisher until it found a home at Farrar, Straus & Giroux. L’Engle even had an entire decade of rejection and almost gave up writing when she hit forty. That kind of brutal rejection has occurred with many other famous authors as well.
Meanwhile, my husband’s book Quest for Flight – John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West has won many awards of its own! In fact, this weekend he’s being honored in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Quest for Flight won the Great Southwest Book Festival’s Regional Literature Award. I ‘m proud of him and also genuinely thrilled for him – and I only have a smidgen of envy regarding his accomplishments, which I joke about openly with him. I called his book “the other woman” during his years of writing it, and he was able to take that in stride.
Fortunately my love for him overtakes my envy and smushes it. He has always encouraged me to write during the fifteen years we’ve been together. Craig even calls me the “real” writer in the family, as I was making money from my articles long before he received his first royalty check. It has also been awfully convenient that he can give me advice culled from his seven-year-long experience writing his book and working with the University of Oklahoma Press.
While blogging has been a surprisingly fulfilling way to write, I’ve gotten way too caught up in the blogging popularity game. (blogularity?) WordPress makes it easy to spend all day analyzing your blog statistics, which can be fun, but it can also be discouraging. When I discover a brilliant blog with twenty thousand subscribers in comparison to my eighty-seven followers, it takes the wind out of my sails. Let me re-phrase that: I allow the mega-blog to take the wind out of my sails.
Yesterday I was Facebook surfing and visited a page belonging to someone with a fulfilling-sounding life that many people would give their eyeteeth to enjoy. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out. She wrote a comment that gave me pause; however, writing to her friends that Facebook had a tendency to make her feel “less-than” rather than good enough or even great.
I thought, “No way! If Facebook affects her like that, then what can it do to the rest of us?”
I’ve already won the only prize worth having as far as I’m concerned: my family & stability despite having my insidious bipolar disorder. There is no need to get caught up with the “not being enough” syndrome. I’m about to have a session with my counselor, and now I know what to bring up with her today.
She’s not a blogger, nor on Facebook. (Ah! The horror, the horror!) But she does all kind of other cool things, plus she’s a wife, mom and therapist. My counselor has been totally supportive of my writing and she believes that in sharing my experiences through a book, I’ll definitely help others. She’ll be able to shed light on my feelings of envy and insecurity – she knows me very well. After our meeting, my face will turn from green to rosy pink, and I’ll keep you posted on how I handle my envy in the months to come!