The musical Into The Woods starts out with the words "Once upon a time...I wish." The main characters in the story each have something they wish for. They get their wishes at the end of the first act. But things quickly spiral downward when things don't work out as they dreams. Never fear, everything is made right by the end. Still, the final lines of the musical are: "And happily ever after! ... I wish."
Satisfaction is not part of human nature. We always want something more. When we get our dream, we start dreaming of going further. This is good. This is how we progress. We invent wagons so lots of people and things can travel by horse, but that's slow and relies on an animal. Someone comes up with the idea of trains, which can carry lots of people and go very quickly, but there are only so many train tracks and you have to travel with lots of people. Someone comes up with the idea of the automobile, which is versatile and cheap enough for most people to own, but it's still relatively slow and can't travel over water. Someone invents airplanes, which can carry hundreds of people around the world within hours. And it goes on and on. Each new incredible innovation is never good enough. We're always seeking.
Unfortunately, wishing does not always serve us well. It often transforms from ambition to jealousy. Unbridled envy that someone has something you do not. In the book blogging community, BEA is a time for celebration, but also a time where the green-eyed monster preys on nearly everyone - those who don't attend and even those who do.
I'm certainly not the first person to write about BEA and jealousy. My friend Mary of Bookswarm wrote a fabulous post the other day. Actually, I wrote a more extensive piece on blogging jealousy several years ago. Still, I thought BEA merited another jealousy post, partly because I felt inspired and partly because I couldn't think of anything else to post today.
The only thing I can think of to say that may be different than other posts is:
Don't be ashamed to feel jealous about BEA or about anything else blog-related.
Embrace your jealousy. Just don't let it control you.
Jealousy is natural. It's not particularly productive in this instance, but for book-lovers like us, BEA is like being given a shopping spree in a chocolate store. It's impossible not to wish that you could experience at least some part of the festivities.
BEA attendees are not immune from feeling jealousy. This will be my third year attending BEA. It is the first year I've ever been invited to any of the publisher parties. I spent the past few years seething with jealousy as my friends got to go to parties I didn't. Even this year, when I get to go to a few parties, I'm still jealous of friends who got invites to parties that I didn't. Logically, I'm aware of how ridiculous this feeling is. I am incredibly lucky to attend BEA at all. Even luckier to get invited to a few parties. Yet, just like the characters in Into The Woods, even when all my wants are fulfilled, I still say "I wish."
My only advice on dealing with jealousy is pretty self-explanatory: (1) Let it pass and (2) Don't be a jerk.
BEA is only a short time each year. There will be a week or two of follow-up posts and then it will be gone. Plus, you can participate in Armchair BEA, a great event for non-BEA attenders to connect with other bloggers and join giveaways. I participated in it before I started going to BEA and enjoyed it. It helps pass the time. Or if it really bothers you, steer clear of the blogosphere for a few weeks. Either way, by mid-June it will be over.
Don't be a jerk is also obvious, although sometimes easier said than done when emotions are riding high. If you're going to BEA, don't push or cut in line. Elementary school stuff. If you're not going to BEA, don't lash out at anyone who is. If you want to vent on Twitter with your friends, go ahead. Just don't make it personal. It may seem like some of us are bragging about our good fortunes on our blogs for the next few weeks, but really we're just excited and grateful for the opportunity to attend.
If you're one of the few who manage to get through BEA - either attending or not attending - without feeling any speck of envy...Wow, I'm jealous.