Sunday, February 19, 2006

Thy Neighbour's Ass

A Sabbath subject.
Covetousness, envious, resentful spite.
Several writers who do me the honor of posting here have recently made sales of their work: Dennie, Savannah and Sandra ( see sidebar) just to name three.
You'd think that would be cause for universal celebration.
Not quite.
At least one of them has mentioned that the reaction to their success from a few supposed "friends" has been less than stellar.
In other words: downright spiteful.
In more words: vindictive, malignant, malicious, malevolent.
Full of animosity, pique and rancour.
Burned their ass/pissed them off/made them green-eyed.
Aw shucks. Isn't that too bad?
Of course we see it all the time. People who think that one person's success means somehow that there is less for them - that the future is fixed and finite, circumscribed like a circle graph.
That another's winning, makes them a loser - even if they were not in competition in the same contest, the same publisher or whatever.
If that's their attitude, they already are.
Some even go to such lengths - as I have read on another board - to actively seek to undermine the target writer, posting nasty reviews, deliberately bad-mouthing at every opportunity. Stalks them, in effect.
Potential avenues escape me, but I gather there are a number of ways the malicious seek to actively diminish, even destroy a fellow writer ,who - in the perpetrator's conceited view of their own entitlement, in their righteous indignation - they believe does not deserve that contract, that opportunity, that success.
I find this sick.
A ticker that reveals a poisonous and psychotic personality trait.
And I don't think I'm arguing ad absurdum here.
There are monsters in this forest.
Usually, I suppose, their effectiveness is limited.
One wonders, though, if any careers have actually been blighted, derailed, frustrated by a concerted and clever campaign by an enemy and their cohorts. And these types always have cohorts, sycophantic sympathizers, apparently.
A mild envy, only, I can understand.
The "I wish it were me" type of thing.
With me it only goes so far as "I wish it were me, TOO."
You GO, girls.
Don't let any malicious gabble and gibe hold you back.
Just beware the jabberwocks.

Back-scratching: flogging: naval; late 19th c. >. As sycophantic flattery, it is Standard English.
Back-scuttle: cant, 19th c.; to go out the back way. Do or have a back scuttle: (1)to possess a woman a retro;(2) sodomy; mid 19th c.>.
Back-staircase: a woman's bustle; about 1850-1900.
Back-up or horn, pills: aphrodisiacs; low; since about 1910>.


archer said...

Samuel Johnson stayed poor and obscure while his good buddy David Garrick became rich and famous. Here is Johnson's essay on envy (Rambler No. 183):

archer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernita said...

Oh, EXCELLENT, Archer!
Thank you for that link. I hadn't seen that.
It's superb.
He explores the subject of jealousy and its ramifications so much more efficiently.
I do,however, interpret the word "envy" more simply and less viciously, but that's semantics.

Savannah Jordan said...

So far, so good, Bernita. Everyone has been super supportive, but I am always wary of the monsters. I choose my friends carfeully, keep only the treasured close (yours is one of the few blogs I visit daily), so that there are few in back-stabbing proximity.

By, the way... "Burned their ass/pissed them off/made them green-eyed" I DO have green eyes already. :)

Bernita said...

I must say I'm glad you've escaped it so far, Savannah; but you have a rare, rich, and growing talent, so please be prepared.
And I am flattered that you visit and post.
Hoo, I have green eyes too, but they're merely an accident of birth.

Sela Carsen said...

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch.

I have yet to join the exalted ranks of the published, but I admit that's only because I submit so infrequently. Even so, I sigh when my friends get contracts. "If only" I think. If only I had their courage, their drive, I might succeed as well.

Bernita said...

But you don't blame them, Sela.Your reaction is a quite different thing.

Dennie McDonald said...

I belong to a large critique group (40+ members) so the reactions are varied and prepare you not to get to high up on your own pedistal - though it still stinks when you get that one person that waggles the finger in your face when you say you're a pusblished author and she says, "No. Your not. Not until your book releases."

I think she shall be victim #1 in my next book - hmm.......

and then there's your friend (your really good friend) that repeatedly laments on the fact that you sold 2 books yet didn't write more than half a book in the entire year of 2005 - well, yeah - but I already have several completed manuscripts....

Dennie McDonald said...

...but she WILL buy every title at least twice so she is forgiven =)

sorry - dial-up makes whining - LOL

thanks for the mention!

Bernita said...

Ohh, it obviously burns her - big time.
Probably hoping your pub will go bankrupt or something, to boot.
Definitely use her in your next book.
I ??? your friend.

Erik Ivan James said...

I can't speak about our friends north of the boarder, but here in the U.S., I am convinced that society has become severely lacking in civility generally. For what ever sick reasons, many delight more in the stomping of another rather than the lifting of another. U.S. politics has become the benchmark for that lack of civility and which seems to seep unfiltered into most of the other ways in which we conduct ourselves and communicate with each other. Our major media is another puddle of no civility vomit. The trashing of another's good fortune has become the accepted and expected rather than the detested.

So, to those among you that have (or are about to), realized your dream as a result of your hard work, sacrifice, dedication and talent, I say to you "Good! I am proud that I may know you." To the rest who may wish to diminish their good fortune, I say to you "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!"

Bernita said...

There does seem to be a trend, Erik, which may have begun with the "home video" embarrassments- funny as some of them were - and moved into the humiliation and abuse qualities of -is it Jerry Springer?
Even many advertisements seem to rely on the debasement trend.
However, as Archer's link indicates, none of this is new.
And if you read old, old newspapers and broad sheets or see their vitriolic cartoons, some of today's media seem postitively mild and courteous and even tame by comparison.
The phrase, "yellow journalism" has a long and ignoble history and is not recent by any means.
Itmay seem that way to you because you're a Dear Guy and appalled by it.

E. Ann Bardawill said...

"I can't speak about our friends north of the boarder"

I can.

As soon as one of the Bunions makes a major deal I gonna get on a plane, sneak up behind them and give them a massive, jealously-motiviated wedgie and run away.

On secound thought, maybe sucking up would be a better career move.

Bernita said...

Note to Bunions: Go commando for a month after signing deal.
Beware of the Annapestic.

ivan said...

Funny about that. And now nobody's heard of Archer, while everybody quotes Dr. Johnson to show how all- out literate he/she is.
Funny again, how 200+ years later,
Johnson is accused of being a crib artist from the Greek and Roman dudes. Just translate into English.
I am jealous of a dead man?
But it's really quite a tribute, to speak of Samuel Johnson as if he were still alive, crib or no.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Bernita, People who do crap like this are doo-doo heads.


Gabriele C. said...

Alas, it seems quite common. Another fellow writer said she'd lost a good friend when she got published.

Wasn't that much of a friend, after all.

The way the blog gang here keeps congratulating each other gives me hope no one will turn green in case I can blog about some happy news one day. Though I do know someone in real life who will probably get jealous.

Bernita said...

I go further, Mindy.
I say: evil.

I love what Bardawill's doing on her blog though.

We'd be not only pleased for you but proud to know you, Gabriele.
Now about that party....

ivan said...

Never mind doo-doo heads.
On Fear Factor, they actually eat doo-doo.
High culture, folks.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I'm late to the party, which seems to be the norm this weekend.

But I do really appreciate this post. For me, the problems have come from people in my writer's group. I've been an active member for two years, served on the board both years, am the current program chair and handle all our speaking arrangements, plus coordinated our first-ever workshop in the fall. We made hundreds of dollars off it, it was a huge success, we got new members in the group because of the advertising, blah blah blah.

But no amount of commitment on my part to the group as a whole has come to bear on the reactions I've received from some people. I'm a complete enthusiast - when I love an author or a work I gush shamelessly because I'm so excited. I've always been this way, but my 'jump up and down' over the sales of two manuscripts and work to CrimeSpree Magazine within the past two weeks has earned me a solid spanking. Even though I didn't do it at a meeting or anything.

I knew it was coming, on the one hand. I've seen it happen to the few other authors in the group. If they leave the group they get criticized, but our members expect the authors to speak for free when we pay other speakers. Our board maintains we shouldn't do anything to promote our published authors - a topic I've been fighting with the board on for two years, and have failed to bring about change on. The line I hear is, "That's what Crime Writers of Canada is for."

Further to that, there isn't a writer I haven't heard criticized for their work that's been published. Do I like all of the work? No. Not all of it is in my alley. That's a fair thing to say, but going around to various people in the group criticizing specifics of writing and whatnot is pretty sad.

Just last week someone told me there was no reason for people to be jealous of me when I'd only signed with a small publisher. Then last night, the same person, on a completely different board matter, send out an email to a group of people and told me off publicly because they disagreed with my position on the board matter.

And its all more than enough details from me, but Bernita, your timing is impeccable, because it feels damn good to vent, and since a number of people in our writer's group have started reading my blog, I can't talk about it over there.

My husband has been encouraging me to leave the group for three months now because of mounting problems, including that same person who told me off revealing confidential information about me to other members, which indirectly led to the conflict yesterday.

Board members should know better. People should know better.

Truly, it's hard to believe people can be so small and so sad.

There is success out there for everyone who goes after it. Big publisher, small publisher, independent, large international conglomorate - no one path is right. Most important you find the publisher you like working with and don't sell your soul to achieve your dreams.

Which all the talented writers who visit this blog repeatedly demonstrate they're capable of! You go guys!

Bernita said...

There's fair, objective criticsm, Sandra, which would be part of the normal critiquing and PRIOR process of such a group, but to leap upon a writer with all four feet for their joyousness the moment they've made a sale and achieved a success is nothing but plain, unvarnished jealousy and spite.
They should be rejoicing with you.
Especially after what you've done to promote the group as a whole.
Your husband is right, I think, to continue is an exercise in self-abuse.
There is nothing much more soul-destroying than to try to promote an aim for the benefit of all, if your efforts are unappreciated and in fact denegrated.
Sometimes it's not so much the words that hurt, but the intention behind them.
Seems to me, these days, anything short of self-pub or a vanity press is proof of professionalism. I have not seen anything from the publishing world that minimizes small press - quite the contrary, in fact.
So they can stuff their snide reaction up their rear and choke on it.

Gabriele C. said...

Sandra, you should make a list of what you invest in the group and what you get back, taking into consideration that people pissed off by your success won't give you fair crits from now on. I bet you'll come to the conclusion that the group isn't worth your time anymore. Go write some more books, get them published, and piss those mean spirited creatures off even better. :-)

Bernita said...

And Gabriele makes a very good point about future critiques, too.

Sandra Ruttan said...


I should say that critiquing isn't even a function of our group - it is strictly for professional development - speakers address writing craft topics, professional topics (like a lawyer talking law) and business of writing topics, like networking.

So evaluating writing skill has no function within the group - people just do it when others put a book out.

And I have come to agree that the exercise in self abuse should end!

ivan said...

I suppose it depends on whether you're are male or female and the kind of person you are. Tenacious?
Not tenacious? I suspect tenacious.
Many years ago, when the Instituto Allende, Mexico was having a fight with the University of California, some of the professors fled and since I had some paperwork, I was put into the breech. Heretofore I'd just been another creative writing student.
Well, I was called anything from a "f-up" to a homo, the last remark, over which I had grabbed my accuser, a male, by the ears and laid a smacker on him. Better be shot as a rapist than a mere chicken plucker.
Things cooled down. I chose the path of entertainer and humorist, citing comic books and old EC comics, especially MAD as Dostoevkian creations, which, I think they were; certainly Dada and satire.
They found it a gas, I think, and thanked me for entertainment rather than formal rote.
My antagonist, having failed to produce an assignment on time, came to me and said,Dickensian fashion, "Please sir, if you don't get me the A I need I will have to go back to being a gardener."
"Why Mellors, you weasel."
I gave the guy an A because he was a good poet...And I still felt a bit bad about it.
Sometimes a little outrage, finesse, humour?
Hang in there.

Sela Carsen said...

And fwiw, I don't covet my neighbor's ass, either. Everyone on my street is at least as saggy in the behind as I am, or more so!

Sandra, you know what they say: Success is the best revenge! Go get 'em.

M. G. Tarquini said...

You know, Sandra. The ones who are being doo-doo heads to you obviously never met a bridge they didn't burn.

R.J. Baker said...

I ditto what Erik said and add only this:

As a peer, you will have many helpers for climb up the ladder to the next level. When you reach that next level, some of those who helped, will try to pull you back down to their level or maybe below.

Unfortunately, this is human nature or the current largest common denominator thereof. It crosses genders, races, and career boundries. I have seen this in many industries and it is not unique.

Lisa Hunter said...

There was some famous Hollywood mogul -- I can't remember which one -- who said, "Every time a friend succeeds, a little part of me dies."

Some people are just too insecure to ever be happy for someone else. Interestingly, the most successful writers I know are also the most generous with praise and enthusiasm when someone else has a success -- however large or small.

Shesawriter said...


Envy. It is a HUGE problem for writers. I've felt it from others. I've felt it FOR others. It's a natural human emotion, but it's toxic.


Bonnie Calhoun said...

Bernita.....~snicker~..I didn't see a donkey in the story...LOL...Oh, wait! Yous I did...but you just left them nameless so that we can't go and get them for picking on Savannah, Dennie, and Sandra....Poop! I love a good keyboard lashing!!!

All three ladies, I bow (see me bending...Dennie, don't kick me!) to your literary skills and I'm so happy for all of you.

It gives me a lot of incentive to get of my butt and finish my rewrites!

Sandra, dump the loosers! They've shown their true'll only be downhill from there!

Bernita said...

Sela is absolutely right.
Mindy points out that those types are not only cruel but stupid and short-sighted, and Ivan gives an example, the jerks that siddle around later wanting a recommendation, an introduction.
I think there's a difference, Tanya, between wanting accolades "Too" and NOT wanting another to receive them. As Bonnie says, that sort of "envy" can be used positively and productively, and it never include loss to another.
Lisa points out the habits and attitudes of the Real professionals - something missing from that bunch as R.J. says.Reminds me of a version of the Minander complex, those who stamp on the fingers of those below them on the ladder.

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