I don't really know why I was thinking about this today, but I was. Pardon the rambling.
A couple years ago, a Twitter friend and writer sent me a manuscript of a book he had written. I read it. It wasn't bad. It wasn't good, either. The plot was good, the story was entertaining and fun and, in the end, heartbreaking. All of the elements of a great story were there. But at the time, my friend's writing style could only be called "overwritten." It was far too verbose. I gave him some honest feedback, and then I proceeded to trash him as a writer to many of my friends.
Now, my Twitter friend isn't really a friend at all - we never talk anymore. But he's a full-time writer, editing and running an upstart website that produces some amazing content. He still writes. And his writing is great. It's no longer overwritten. He grew as a writer, probably with the help of honest friends who gave great feedback.
I was jealous of him. I still am, but I'm less petulant than I was. He had a great story - an amazing story, really - and he just needed a good editor. Maybe I was technically a better writer than he was at the time, but he had already written a book, a good 150 pages or so. I hadn't. I still haven't. I was petty and childish and jealous of what he had accomplished, weaving a narrative so full of life and hope and heartbreak, when I knew I didn't have that in me to do, that I missed out on an opportunity to build a friendship and let him help me.
Envy is an ugly color. It doesn't look good on me. It doesn't look good on anyone.
I'm reminded of a valuable lesson today - only small people tear things down. If I ever get a chance to help a young writer, I hope that I'm not petty about it. Especially if they're better than me.