Cover Photo: Tallulah Pomeroy
Tallulah Pomeroy

On Envy, the MFA, and Writing Under Capitalism

“No one had told me to prepare myself for this—for wanting what someone else had.”

POV is inconsistent; needs a proper ending; too many extra characters—

graduate student.

What a fake name, Honestly, Donovan is the fakest name I’ve ever heard come through a wall.

thwack.thwack.thwack thwack.

Is my story salable? Is this weird, treacly little thing I made in my apartment and honed in workshop ever going to reach people and affect them in a meaningful way? thwack

What are we all competing for? The same Pulitzer Prize? The same review? There’s more than one way for a book to succeed. There’s room enough for everyone.

I think I should go to bed, It’s already been kind of a long night for me.

You’re crying,

You know you’re a really good writer, right?

TheNew Yorker.

Stop thinking like it’s a zero-sum game, Celebrate people’s’ awesomeness instead of wanting what they have. Can’t I do both?

Yes,It’s really difficult.

I can’t keep reassuring you of your talent, Nothing I say sticks with you.

Nothing’s going to be enough for you. You could publish this book to acclaim, win a bunch of awards, get your own HBO series, and you’d still be flopped on this couch like a corpse at the end of the day.

I’m Aviva, I’m from Chicago and I’m eight years old. I think I have what it takes to be MasterChef Junior!

It’s OK! You got this, Lila!

If these ten-year-olds aren’t envious of one another, then surely I can get my shit together. We should all be like these kids. These kids are more famous than I or anyone I know will ever be. other

R.A. is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Medill School of Journalism. Their fiction, nonfiction, journalism, and criticism have been featured or are forthcoming in Granta, The Paris Review, Guernica, The Washington Post, The Baffler, Catapult, In These Times, LitHub, McSweeney’s, Outside, Pacific Standard, Poetry Magazine, and Best American Nonrequired Reading. They wrote a novel, The Comedown, which was published by Henry Holt in 2018 to critical acclaim. They are an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University.