Their Success and Your Success Not Mutually Exclusive
Erika Schickel writes at LA Observed about her jealousy and feelings of inadequacy in the face of Wild author and Dear Sugar columnist Cheryl Strayed’s massive success, and it’s pretty great! I love it when people admit to being monsters, because we’re all monsters! Don’t even front like you’re not, because you are. Monsters is a strong word. Wounds? Jealous little creatures? Fallible humans? Take this:
Here we were — women all in possession of good health, loving families, interesting, paid writing lives, and yet we tromped along like a quartet of Grimm Fairy Tale stepmothers spewing verbal toads and lizards out onto the trail. We bemoaned the state of being middle-aged, mid-listers in a dwindling freelance market. We ragged on our feckless spouses, our useless agents, on Joyce Maynard’s hair. But underneath we knew we were simply feeling the bitter injustice that came with the territory of not being Cheryl Strayed.
She ends her essay wondering what Strayed would say to her, as Sugar, if she were to ask for help with this jealousy problem. She actually need not wonder, because Strayed wrote a column answering this exact question back in March of 2011, before her crazy own success had happened. The letter-writer is jealous of her friends with book deals! Cheryl says, yes, I have also been jealous of people with book deals, but here is the thing: “You’ve conflated the book with the book deal.” The book being something you have control over, the book deal being something that you really don’t have control over at all. Anyway read the whole thing, it’s great (OF COURSE) and also has hot tips that apply to all of us, not just those of us who want to write books (but: doesn’t everyone want to write books?).