Mark Terry has an interesting post about author envy, in which he notes a couple of different forms of it: success envy, skill envy, accomplishment envy.
I'll add on a couple more: online attention envy (why is his/her blog/site more popular than mine?), age envy (that NYT bestseller who is technically young enough to be your grandchild), and public appearance envy (the author who looks better than his/her gorgeous jacket photo.)
Envy is one of the seven deadly sins, and for good reason. It's the opposite of love and admiration, and the spin-off of pride. If there is anything that humans know how to do very well, it's hate and pride. We're also very good at disguising it, justifying it, flaunting it and finding clever ways to say we're entitled to it.
I envy Lee Goldberg, but not for his job (close proximity to all those celebrities would give me another ulcer.) It's his family that makes me turn green. Imagine having a whole family of writers to hang with -- would that not be the coolest thing in the world? Two of my cousins write, but one is in the UK and the other lives in the Carolinas. Gran, who was a poet, passed away. I keep hoping one of my kids will end up being a writer, but you can't force that.
Envy doesn't go unnoticed. It took what I considered a great friendship, showed me what it really was, and broke my heart. Alison Kent has blogged about being on the receiving end as well, and snagged some interesting comments from other victims, including author Mary Janice Davidson (who as one of the finalists for a Quill Award will likely be seeing a lot more of it.)
Feeling envy doesn't make you a bad person. Congratulate yourself, you're human. Forgive yourself, too. But then you have to take one final step: let it go and do something else. I suggest doing something to show your love for your family, or to help out another person. That will shift your focus and soothe some of that bruised self-esteem.
What do you do if you're feeling envious?
More in print: Sandra Brown's Envy, a story that revolves around writer envy taken to the extreme. Nonfic about envy has been penned by Joseph Epstein and Harold Boris.