Envy as a Tool, The Writer's Life
Some time ago when I was an actor, a dear friend got a dream part, that of a strong, successful creature, a woman with a woman's sexuality, not a man's fantasy versions of it. Plus, she got to age 40 years without the benefit of makeup.
She was brilliant--vivid, funny, alive. The world responded: reviews, her face splashed everywhere, award nominations, everything we had dreamed of when we started out as teenagers. I was happy for my hard-working friend, and also, torn up with envy, the kind of evil, gut-eating ache that you can't ignore, no matter how you wrestle with it.
That's when I realized that the envy was a signpost, a gift. It was telling me that I needed to get out and do what I cared about most. I started to show people my writing, got extremely positive responses and began to work on learning to write the long-form challenge that is the novel.
I have since watched this friend's career (and life) rise and fall, but I'm never torn with envy, not for her, not for a fellow writer who gets published. I may feel twinges of wistfulness, but not that gut-wrenching envy. I have my dream and I am actively working towards it, all the time, with as much energy as I can spare. I may have to go slowly, because of limitations on my writing time--I have a special needs child. But I know that Winston Churchill had it right, at least as far I am concerned: never, never, never, never, never give up. Hurray for dreams, and the hard work it takes to achieve them.