October 14, 2008: What Color Are the Monster’s Eyes?

If jealousy is the green-eyed monster, what color are envy’s eyes?

Though close in meaning, jealousy and envy aren’t exactly the same thing. According to Dictionary.com, envy is what you feel when you want what someone else has. Jealousy is what you feel when someone has something you think ought to be yours. (I think of it as “I want it too” v. “I want it, it belongs to me.”)

I’m not sure why I’m thinking about this today — I’m not feeling particularly envious or jealous. Maybe it’s just one of those things I go through, when I play with words inside my head, examining their shapes, their connotations, and, when I’m playing with two words, the way they resonate with each other.

The thing is, if I were feeling envy or jealousy because of another writer’s achievements or successes, I would admit it to myself. I know this because I’ve been jealous, I’ve been envious. They’re ugly feelings and I’d rather not feel them, but denying that I do is just stupid. It doesn’t make them go away, and pretending that they’re not there just gives them more power. I’m much more likely to act on them — undoubtedly in a stupid way — if I don’t know/won’t recognize what I’m feeling.

I think envy is normal for writers. There’s always someone who has something I wish I could have, too: a fabulous contract, a great review, a passionate fan base. As much as I have — and I know it’s nothing to sneeze at — there’s still a part of me that sometimes wants more. Not always; most of the time I recognize that everyone’s path is different, just because I don’t see the bumps in other people’s roads doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

But I’d still like to know what color envy’s eyes are.


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