Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Other People's Success

My little cousin Justin has just achieved huge success. I call him my little cousin, even those he is quite a few inches taller than me, because I'm about 20 years older than him and changed his diapers.

If you haven't heard about Justin, you should probably check him out on Twitter. Yep. That's my little cousin talking about my uncle at Shitmydadsays. If you haven't heard about Shitmydadsays, you can read about it all over the place because my 29-year-old cousin got a HUGE book deal and is developing a sit-com for CBS. I won't tell you how much the book deal was for, but suffice it to say, you could add all my advances together and it wouldn't equal what he's getting as an advance for his first book.

People keep looking at me and asking me how I feel about this. I am thrilled! It's fabulous. First of all, my uncle is hysterically funny and people should know that. Secondly, Justin is doing a fabulous job of capturing a lot of his wisdom. It's especially funny for me to read it, because I know all the backstory and all the context. Thirdly, he's FAMILY, people, and as far as I'm concerned in our family, a rising tide raises all the ships. (The converse is something my uncle says which is that we're like a litter of piglets and if you pull one tail, we'll all squeal.)

While Justin's success certainly has an element of luck to it, I challenge you to find anyone's success story that doesn't have a little sprinkling of luck on it. Mine does. While it might seem like all this happened overnight to a kid, Justin has been working hard at being a professional writer since he graduated from college. Longer, really, since he worked at it WHILE he was in college as well.

I think people expect me to be jealous or resentful. After all, I'm 20 years older than he is and have been at this for a while and no one is making a sit-com based on my work and my books aren't being sold at auction. I'm not saying I don't want those things for myself, I totally do. I just don't think that Justin getting them has anything to do with me or my work.


Molly O'Keefe said...

That's your nephew? amazing -- Adam and I are big fans. Sometimes the world is so so small.

I think that when something like what your nephew is doing - something outside the box and so personal and funny and relatable -- something that raises the bar for everyone and it gets rewarded as it should - it's absolutely worth celebrating. We should all be grateful that those different and exciting things punch some holes in what is safe and the norm.

It can be hard to get behind the hundredth vampire series sale - but something that's different and exciting -- when it does well - we all do well. Congrats to your nephew!

Eileen said...

Thanks, Molly! It is a small world. My aunt and uncle actually arrive here today for Thanksgiving and all my friends are jockeying for invitations to come over and spend time with Sam.

I like how you put that. The idea of it punching holes in the walls that hem us in.

P.S. Cousin, not nephew. Doesn't that make me sound younger? :-)

Chevy Stevens said...

OH MY GOD! I just read all his tweets. Those are laugh-out-loud funny, but they also have great kernels of truth in them. So good.

Maureen McGowan said...

WOW. That is so cool, Eileen. Congrats to your nephew!
And while I do understand professional jealousy. Believe me I do.
I totally buy and love your attitude on this and would like to believe that's how I'd feel, too. Like you said, so many elements of this business are like being struck by lightning (only, if lightning was a good thing... I need a new metaphor) and it's hard to be jealous because it struck elsewhere. Especially when that person's a friend or family or, say, you changed his diapers.

Eileen said...

Exactly, Maureen! How can you be jealous when it happens to someone you love? Especially when jealousy always seems to imply some kind of wishing ill on the other person.

Chevy, aren't those hysterical? And they're all SO my uncle. My kids love it when he comes to visit because he always cracks them up. They feel he doesn't swear as much in front of them as he does in the Tweets, though.

Sinead M said...

Huge congrats to your nephew. I'm with Molly, we can all get behind the success of something that clearly deserves success.
I admit I have a harder time with books that are merely okay, or too similar to everything else on the market.

Molly O'Keefe said...

ohno Eileen - I kept deleting cousin and putting nephew because the diaper thing was stuck in my head. Sorry!! You sound young no matter what!!

Eileen said...

He's a lot younger than me. I occasionally forget that he's my cousin and not another nephew. His father is my mother's baby brother (she changed his diapers and is not above reminding him of that fact) and my aunt is, er, a little bit younger than my uncle. :-)

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