Don’t Write Alone | Columns

Help! My Jealousy Over Other Writers’ Success is Destroying Me

In our first Tarot + Craft column, Sarah Elaine Smith gives advice to a bitter writer

Dear Braindoggies,

I am a writer with some decent successes to my name, but I’m so destroyed by professional jealousy that I can’t work anymore. Im so jealous that I cant even read others’ work, I cant participate in the community, I can’t even get on Instagram without spinning out over the prizes that I havent won, the books I havent written, and the ways it seems everyone else is thriving. It feels shitty not to be able to truly celebrate others successes. And Ive actually had it pretty good. I have no right to complain.

How do I deal with this? How can I get less bitter?

Thanks, Bitter


photograph courtesy of the author

t so ambitious. The Chariot is not a card of “its an honor just to be nominated” participation. Its battle. Its war. You have a plan for your presence in the world, and in the pursuit of it, you are willing to harness the opposites of your nature (black swan, white swan) to pull you forward.

ve ever made a custard, you know that in order to mix heated milk with egg yolks, you have to introduce the milk slowly, raising the temperature by tiny degrees so you dont end up with a pan of sweet milk and scrambled eggs—a process called “tempering.”

s a time and place for integration, but it sounds like what you really want is power.

s an upstroke and a downstroke in a piston. Riding a bicycle, your feet go up and down on the pedals. Your lungs expand and empty. No power operates through expansive “positive” force alone—dynamism is the source, and for that, we also need to allow for contracting “negative” force. If you dont alternate forces, they cancel each other out, and thats what youve been doing. You have tempered your desires with rules about what youre allowed to want or how youre allowed to feel.

spirituals just as spiritual to want what you want.

ve disavowed the competitive part of yourself; you feel bad about not being able to support other writers through the cloud of jealousy and youre using your previous successes to deny your feelings. The problem is youll probably feel them anyway, whether you approve of them now or not. Things like that can do a lot more damage under the surface than above. And if youre truly, seriously committed to not feeling them, youll also be inclined to numb or sideline yourself.

s the ideal outcome? Aries is the first sign in astrology, corresponding with the first house, that of the self. As such, Aries energy can be kind of bratty . . . but have you noticed how much shit bratty people get done? Have you noticed how often they get their way?

s rules?

Get some

s interesting to see such a somber card among the fiery others. In the Six of Swords, youre leaving a familiar shore, turning away from what you know. The journey to the unknown doesnt exactly look like fun.

t a simple and lighthearted matter for you. It requires a shift in your thinking. And when you say “I have no right to complain,” it indicates that you were trained to invalidate your thoughts and feelings. If weve had an idea like that deeply instilled and reinforced from an early age (which nearly all of us have), going against such training can feel like denying the very laws of nature.

t get what you want. Notice the places where you try to cancel out one part of your nature with another. If you think back, can you remember who taught you this?

s fun. You might have temporarily mistaken the thrill of desire with the ache of disappointment, but its easy to switch mindsets again.

t turn into a Heather or anything, but at least let the brat pick out some of your outfits.

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