The Seven Deadly Sins of the Writer: Epic Envy

The first in a series, assuming I write the rest. If not, never mind. Got the idea from my own comment on a thread at Critique Circle, and have borrowed heavily from myself. Is that plagiarism and narcissism, or just narcissism? While you decide, here’s a stolen excerpt from Wikipedia, under the topic of “Epic”:

“…ten main characteristics of an epic [poem]:[4]

  1. Begins in medias res.
  2. The setting is vast, covering many nations, the world or the universe.
  3. Begins with an invocation to a muse (epic invocation).
  4. Begins with a statement of the theme.
  5. Includes the use of epithets.
  6. Contains long lists, called an epic catalogue.
  7. Features long and formal speeches.
  8. Shows divine intervention on human affairs.
  9. Features heroes that embody the values of the civilization.
  10. Often features the tragic hero’s descent into the Underworld or hell.”

Of course, I’m not talking about epic poetry here, so forget all that. Only brought it up so I could  invoke my “muse,” which is a classic cartoon moose: Bullwinkle. And the Seven Deadly Sins of the Writer are cartoon villains, hell bent on keeping that meat-headed Moose from getting anything meaningful done.

So, if we’re not talking epic poetry here, what are we talking about? (Note the “we.” At this point, I want someone else to blame for this epic fail of a post.) Here’s one of Wiktionary’s definitions of “epic”: 

(adjective): “(colloquialslanginformal) Extending beyond the usual or ordinaryextraordinarymomentousgreat.The after-prom party was epic.

And while we’re defining things, let me define “sin,” as it pertains to our freethought, free-associative purposes here.

Sin: (noun) An affront to or crime against the self, against others, against society, or against the environment.

Today’s sin will eat our creamy centers from the inside out, if we let it:

Envy

Writers’ Envy. It’s epic. It’s a monster. And it stinks. Most forums reek of it; even my critique group gets whiffy from time to time. Yes, it’s all over the place. Even, occasionally, on my face in the mirror.

Time to scratch and sniff.

Envy is my favorite Deadly Sin of the Writer. Oh, it’s not the most fun; those would be Satirical Sloth, Literary Lust and Grammar Gluttony. No, it’s my favorite because it has the potential for such harm… and such good. For that good to happen, Envy must be converted to Admiration — a more, um, admirable trait. So, note to self:

I envy => I admire => What can I learn from this? = Nirvana and/or ice cream.

There. All done. With chocolate sprinkles.

But what if the object of Envy is reviled, if her talent is considered less than admirable? Lately, I’ve seen a lot of Popular Author bashing, some of which would only be warranted if the Popular Author in question had run down a puppy and driven off, cackling. This kind of envy — the “envy of the undeserving” — is especially detrimental. 

To those Popular Author Bashers: “Lighten up, folks, or lose your creamy centers forever.”

Maybe you are a better writer than Amanda Hocking or Stephanie Meyer or even (sacrilege!) J.K. Rowling, whatever “better” means to you.

There. I said it. You’re better.

So what? Let’s all find something to admire about that writer whose success we envy — especially if we think she doesn’t deserve that success. Is she grammatically challenged? Addicted to adverbs? Maybe, but her characters are loved by millions. Plot holes a-plenty? Modifiers dangling from trees? Laugh it off. Bile tastes bad. At least she had the guts to dangle.

And if you can’t find anything to admire about her work, what about her work ethic? Still no? Maybe she wears a mean stiletto — really, really mean. Admire her bunions.

So, what’s your take on Envy? A force for good? Or epic fail?

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4 responses

  1. A fun read … I look forward to the rest of the series!

    1. Glad you liked it, Mary. If Satirical Sloth doesn’t have its wicked way with me, the series might actually get written!

  2. Hi,

    You probably get dozens of these sorts of Blog nominations (- so feel free to ignore me) but I was asked to nominate Blogs for a “Best Moment Award”. As spam goes this seemed like one of the friendliest forms and I was more than happy to have my ego massaged.

    http://wrenfoewisdom.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/flibbertigibbet-owner-accepts-meaningless-award/

    Here are the rules for the acceptance of the award:
    1. Display the award logo:
    2. Link back to the person who nominated you:
    3. State 7 things about yourself:
    4. Nominate 15 (or however many you can) other bloggers for this award:
    Anyway, thank you for letting me enjoy your blog  (Wrenfoe)

    ((& Lindy gets a bonus point for being a mad as a bag of frogs))

  3. Thanks for the nomination, Wrenfoe. It might take me a week or so to gather my thoughts and links, write a response, release the frogs…

    You’d be mad too, if I kept you in a bag. I will try my best to write something ribbetting.

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