So I was driving along, one day recently, and there was this discussion on the radio about Facebook. I was only half listening to it but I did hear enough to distractedly remark to myself about how sexist it all sounded.
Basically, the person on the radio was saying that people should beware of Facebook because it can cause Envy in some people. Particularly, the person said, in women who see their friends in enviable situations such as steady relationships, married-with-children, nice houses… all that jazz.
Like I said, it all sounded a bit condescending and, yes, sexist to me so I switched over to some classical music station and let it go.
For a while.
The discussion came bouncing back into my head a few days later. This would be a better piece if I had some neat inciting incident which caused me to revisit the discussion but there wasn’t anything like that. It just reappeared.
What it was, though, was a kind of a little epiphany. A very little one but, still, we take them where we find them, don’t we?
“That’s me,” I thought, suddenly, out of nowhere, “that’s me. I’m like the housewife, the single lady, all those sexist simplistic stereotypes. I Have Envy.”
That was it. I had never thought of it before I had heard that silly radio discussion and suddenly I just knew it was true. The rather-sexist radio person had a point after all. His point was about me. I suffer from Envy.
It’s a silly thing. An embarrassing thing to admit, in truth, but if I don’t push for some modicum of truth now and again, what the hell am I doing here? So, yes, Envy, me, I suffer.
It’s a particular kind of Envy, the one I have. I don’t Envy you your husband or your wife. I don’t envy you your Porsche or your big house or your fifteen foot telly screen. I don’t envy your status or your money or your nice face, sparking wit, or svelte figure. None of the above.
What, then, Ken, what do you Envy?
I Envy the writers.
There I’ve said it now. It’s out.
On Twitter and also, to a lesser extent on Facebook, I follow/friend/whatever a considerable number of professional writers. I’ve always loved to watch them write, virtually, across the Social Media Interface. I’ve learned stuff from them too, about productivity and procrastination and just the business of writing. It’s been great.
But there’s been this subtext, all of my own making, and the silly sexist radio person made me think about it. I Envy them what they have made for themselves. Oh, and let’s not confuse Envy with Begrudgery. The writers I know got there by virtue of their own sweat, talent, and perseverance. They have my respect… and my Envy too.
This is odd. It’s especially odd given that I am a writer myself and, although it’s taken me years to be confident enough to say it of myself, I am a writer. It is doubly-especially odd given the afternoon I had yesterday where one of my theatre plays, ‘Midnight in the Theatre of Blood’ was launched onto the National Stage by a hugely enthusiastic cohort of actors and audience members. As has so-often been the case, I got to see my writing performed and enjoyed and, yes, even celebrated. I am a writer. I’ve had round-and-about ten different theatre plays produced and performed, some of them in a number of different productions, I’ve has a similar number of radio plays, I’ve been on telly and on the radio, I’ve… I could go on. Yet, still with the Envy, Ken? An Envy of writers when you, yourself, are a writer too? How can this be? Where is the sense in it?
The key to it is in one aspect of those Writer’s lives, those ones I follow on my computer. I don’t Envy them their glamour lifestyle or their vast hoards of money, mostly because I know that neither really exist. I don’t Envy them the kudos they receive or the critical acclaim or even the lie-ins they can perhaps have on certain mornings.
Really and truly. I only Envy them in one respect.
I Envy them their time.
They are professional writers. That means they have time that they can legitimately allocate to writing. God, how I Envy them for that. I am a professional… something else, so the writing I do is snatched from the scraps of the day that remain when all other things are done. Those late hours of the night when every other person, and every other concern, is sleeping.
And I get it done. We can’t accept our excuses that there is no time to write. There is always time and I find it because I have to but, golly, it’s hard to bind a piece of writing together when it’s produced in stolen moments. The work itself tends to reflect the time available to create it, short, patchy, intermittent.
Imagine the luxury to sit and stare then write and write and write again. To let it grow and flower in the light of day.
I Envy that but I’ll get over it.
I think everybody probably envies something. Don't you?