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A Lame Excuse for a Star Trek Reference, and Sour Grapes

March 16, 2010
tags: ,

I traveled to NYC recently to catch up with a couple of girlfriends. On my way home on the Metro North train, I was seated in front of a woman who spent the majority of the trip talking on her cell phone.  She had the kind of voice that made me want to tell her to get a pulse, a monotonous drone that never changed or wavered.

These annoyances aside, it actually gets worse. My friend on the train is being published. That’s what she was talking on the phone about. She has an agent and a lawyer, and her first book, a cookbook for kids, will hit the shelves three weeks after she finishes compiling the recipes for it. (I finished reading my book pretty early in the trip and had nothing to do but listen to this woman talk and stare out the window at the idyllic, trash-strewn scenery of New York state, so I seem to have retained a good deal of what she said.)

This woman makes granola for a living (yeah, I overheard that too. I’m nosy, huh?).  She’s writing a children’s cookbook, which I’ve seen about a million times on the shelves of Barnes and Noble in various incarnations.  She’s not a professional and she’s not original is what I’m trying to say here. Yet she’s being published and I…am sitting here bitching about it.

"It's not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became because of you."

The very worst part of all of this is that I feel like a horrible person. Why do I need to feel this kind of jealousy and anger towards a complete stranger? Would it be better if it were a friend of mine? Would I feel happy for one of my buddies if she got a book published, or would I grit my teeth and try really, really hard to refrain from punching her? It’s not the granola lady I hate; I hate what I’ve become because of her.

Additionally, granola lady was no spring chicken. She’s probably been waiting a long time for a break like this one. And making granola in the meantime, which doesn’t sound like much fun. Sure, you can add dried figs and raisins and almonds, but it’s still just granola. I should take her example as an indication that anyone can be published, given enough time, patience and determination.

Alas, I just don’t work that way. I’m a competitive person and the publishing business is also competitive. I want to be the best, the most well-known, the most respected. When other writers do well, all I can think about is how I could do better. I suppose being confronted with someone else’s success also makes me confront my own shortcomings. Maybe when I have a few books of my own on the shelves, I won’t feel so bitter about one elderly lady getting one cookbook published.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and chowing down on these here grapes. Sure, they’re sour, but I like sour. I know! I’ll put them in granola! I’ll throw in some apple of my eye chunks, some little bits of humble pie, and of course the granola will have to be full of beans. I’ll be a hit. All new Idiom Granola, now available at your local grocery store!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2010 11:01 am

    Ha! I about fell out of my chair when I read this. I think we all feel this way more often than we are willing to admit. Kudo’s to you for being honest about it. 🙂

  2. Melissa permalink
    March 16, 2010 12:01 pm

    Let me do a little soliloquy here from an unpublished, not-so-springy-of-a chicken:
    (Not my real email, so don’t bother. You know where to find me.)
    1) You were not truly jealous of the pruny old granola lady. Do you really want to be published for your dried-out oats when you have yet to sow yours? Please.
    2) You would be envious of anyone that gets published, friend or foe, best friend or dried Puppy Chow creator. You have a goal. Someone else gets there first, it will irk you. That’s life. Expand. Live life. Experiences are the things that give you the ability to write. Breathe in. Breathe out. If you are good at what you do, and you do it enough (i.e. make enough granola) sooner or later you’ll get your break. Write, write, write. Live, live, live.
    3) She was annnnnooooyyyinng. Loud cell phone talkers should be thrown from trains.
    4) Grapes in your granola are but raisins.
    5) Humble pie can be tasty with a lot of additional whip cream. Savor it and move on.

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