I've been reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie along with other members of the Third Day Book Club, and I've had a case of writer's envy. Here's somebody a quarter century younger than I am, and she's writing better than I ever will. Worse than that, she's writing in a genre that I would most love to write well in: historical fiction.
The feeling reminded me of a Sydney J. Harris column in which he talks about the "pulley system" of evaluating people:
"On the pulley system, when we go up, someone else goes down, and we go down when somene else goes up. We have no inner stability, because our emotional position keeps shifting in relation to the outside world.
"If I meet a man who writes better than I do, this does not diminish my talents. I still have exactly what I had before, no more and no less. His own gifts do not devalue mine, nor do mine devalue somebody else's."
In our capitalistic world, it's hard not to evaluate ourselves and others accoring to the pulley system. But Harris is right. And I need to be reminded of that when I feel envious.