I traveled to Bermuda on assignment last week. (Want to know how you can go to Bermuda or other exotic destinations for work? Join me for a travel writing workshop on May 3).
In the airport, I bought several magazines and spent the first leg of the flight flipping through them. And the second leg of the flight feeling a mix of envy and frustration because several of my peers had bylines in the current issues of national magazines and I had no “good” assignments at all.
I’m incredibly embarrassed to admit this but I had thoughts like, “It must be nice to have the time to write detailed pitches,” and “She must have an in with the editor.” (It’s not lost on me that I was bemoaning bylines while I was on the way to a tropical island for work — a fact that might have led others to think, “She must have an in with the editor…”)
Knowing these women – at least two are good friends – I know that the assignments came through hard work, talent and carving out the time to research and write great queries, not luck or connections.
My feelings had nothing to do with these writers and everything to do with ME. It distorted my thinking.
First off, it’s not true that I don’t have great assignments with national magazines. I work with editors I love, writing articles for magazines and websites where I’m proud to see my byline. I have gotten complacent, started to get comfortable with sending short pitches and outlines of ideas to editors I work with and setting aside goals to write for some new-to-me magazines. Unlike my friends, who made the time to query and landed the kinds of assignments I covet, my byline isn’t in the magazines I set a goal to write for in 2013 because I haven’t made the time to pitch.
Why am I admitting this?
I think we al have professional jealousy at some point in our careers. Coveting what someone else has isn’t about them, it’s about us. It highlights the things we’re not doing.
When I saw those bylines, it became clear that I was frustrated with myself for not doing the work to reach the goals I set. So, I took advantage of WiFi on the plane to research and write a query for one of the magazines I want to break into this year.
Do you have professional jealousy? How do you overcome it?