Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blinking Dazedly at the Light

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen. Donis here. I did not expect to be here today. I expected to be sitting in my husband's hospital room following the surgery he was supposed to have had on the 20th. However, said surgery was delayed at the last minute, which as anyone who has ever had extensive dealings with the U.S. medical establishment knows, is not all that unusual an occurrence. He is supposed to be rescheduled one of these first days, so I still have that experience to look forward to. In the meantime, I find myself unexpectedly thrust back into regular life, looking around in confusion and blinking dazedly at the light. Somehow I must get my head back into writing mode during this interim.

One of my fellow Poisoned Pen Press authors, Dennis Palumbo, not only writes smashing thrillers, he’s also a psychologist working in Hollywood, CA. Many of his clients are in the entertainment industry, naturally, which is job security if I ever heard of it. On top of working as a full time therapist and knocking out novels in his spare time, Dennis also writes a blog entitled “Hollywood on the Couch; The inside scoop on Tinseltown, USA”, for the online edition of Psychology Today magazine. A month or so ago he wrote an entry entitled “Envy”.

Isn’t it funny how things pop up in your life just when you need them? Just a day or two previous to reading Dennis' article, I wrote these words to a friend of mine: “I read what other authors are doing with their careers and am overcome with bitter envy.”

Not necessarily because so many other writers are so much more successful than I — that doesn’t bother me as much as you’d think. Many years ago I had a friend who could not stand the success of others. Not schadenfreude, exactly. She didn’t wish them ill, but she didn’t want them to be richer/happier/more talented than she. Even in my callow youth I never thought that happiness was a finite commodity in the universe. I like to think that good fortune begets more good fortune in the world.

What I envy is other people’s ability to work in spite of obstacles in their lives. I envy their time to promote and travel, their discipline and work ethic. My perception is that other people are better able to cope with the difficulties of their lives than I. They seem to be able to concentrate after a traumatic day, to carve out time to work in spite of all the picayune things they have to deal with during the course of a day. Why can’t I do that? Why can't I just power through?

Even as I write this I see how damaging such an attitude is. In his article, Dennis says, “only by investigating what envy means to us can we risk acknowledging it. The plain fact is, it’s just a feeling, like other feelings—which means it’s simply information, data about what’s going on inside of us.”

I’ve known for years that emotions good and bad come and go like the tide, and the best way to get through is to feel them and let them go if you can. They will go, eventually, without effort on your part. Judging yourself for feeling bad, or nursing your hurts and fears, only makes the pain last longer.

One of my favorite quotes by Sholem Asch is: “To dream of the person you would like to be is to waste the person you are.”

Read Dennis Palumbo’s article on surviving envy at


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Hannah Dennison said...

I love Dennis Palumbo's column! I only just discovered him. I am trying (rather unsuccessfully I'm afraid) to stop measuring myself against other authors. It's an ongoing challenge but I'm happy I'm not the only one. (Sorry about the surgery delay - it must be so unsettling).

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Camille Minichino said...

I hope you realize how much strength and good will you project onto us, Donis! Whatever your difficulties, thank you for that.

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