Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Night at the question Emporium and a new Rule for Writers

I'm sure that you receive many thank-yous, nonetheless I want to sincerely than you for taking the time to read through my query once again.  However, I am left wondering.... You said it "sounds like a fun novel" and while I would love to be jumping for joy that Janet Reid said my novel sounds like fun!!

I can't help but wonder if maybe you were just being nice.  And here I am, left to think that I would have taken it a lot better if you would have just told me that I'd written a piece of crap and that I need to change this, this, this, this, and this before it is any good at all.

Oddly enough, I feel like I can take criticisms better than compliments.  I really admire your opinion and would love to know what you really meant when you said my novel sounds like fun.  Or perhaps I'm reading too much into it and am better off leaving well enough alone.

Clearly I need to work on my image if you think someone with a shark avatar is ever "just being nice."

You can choose to think "oh she's just saying that" (although why I would do that is a mystery to me) OR you can choose to believe it.

One is positive. One is not.  If you are to survive and thrive as writer it is imperative you choose the positive approach.

I don't mean you are Pollyanna.  When you find out your sales figures aren't anywhere near what you were sure they'd be you don't clap your hands and shout "oh yay!" No, you weep and rend your garments and curse the fates, BUT THEN you pick yourself up and say to your agent "OK, let's deal with this. Strategy time."

What you do NOT say is "oh they must think I suck as a writer, woe is me."

If you're getting a lot of rejections you weep, and rend your garments and curse the fates, then pick yourself up and say "Ok, I'm riding my rocket boots to a writing conference where I can meet with agents who can give me some feedback on my query and pages."

What you do NOT say is "oh I suck as a writer, all these rejections can only mean I really suck."

If you send a query to the Chum Bucket and I say something nice you say "thank you" not "oh did she really mean it" because if you disbelieve every positive thing you will create enough self-doubt to float a battle ship and you will sink yourself.  And it will be exhausting for people around you.

How you respond is a choice you make. We all have that instant feeling of doubt, of panic, but the next step is crucial. Get a grip on your reptilian brain, shake it and growl "Enough of that panic horseshit! When Janet Reid read my query and wrote it was a fun novel she meant it." And then you believe it.

Rule for writers: Be positive


Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Thank you yet again for another dose of good sense! And where can I buy a pair of these rocket boots you speak of? THEY sound like FUN!

Elissa M said...

Yes! Great post!

Especially this line:

"How you respond is a choice you make."

You rock, Janet. And I'm not just saying that.

Anita said...

Oh! I have about ten friends who need to read this post NOW. Thanks!

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

The real question now is how to interpret this blog post. When she says "Be positive" does she really mean to be positive, or is she just being nice? Really makes you think...

Robin Lemke said...

I'm going to print this out and keep it above my desk. Fabulous advice!

Stephen Parrish said...

Of all the advices you've ever given, this is one of the bestest.

Writers have to believe in themselves. Even if they suck. Because writing improves with practice. Because people move closer to their goals with each incremental effort. Writers must believe success is just around the corner, otherwise they're pushing it farther away.

Judith Gonda said...

Okay, it's official. Janet, you rock. Your post is an antidote to the self-doubt I think most writers experience now and again. Most of the time I really like my writing even after umpteen revisions and I'm pretty sure other writers feel the same way about their own writing. But every so often the negativity creeps in. The soup-nazi nature of querying--no back talk, just move on--doesn't help. It is crazy-making because half the time you don't even know whether your query was even received, let alone how it was received or why. So thank you for being kind-hearted and helpful and sharing your insights. Between reading your informative pep talks and watching the positive attitude of the Olympic athletes my resolve has gotten a big boost and I feel more determined than ever to persevere. Thank you so much.

Bukash/ Lyudmyla Mayorska said...

I just wanted to thank whomever asked this question. I suffer from the "maybe she's just being nice" syndrome as well.

Unknown said...

thankyou for this. It's far too easy to start getting down on yourself as those rejections are pouring in, but this was just the boost of positivity that I needed.

Anonymous said...

I am STILL a victim of this after the Liz Norris contest, where I and three hundred-some others finished "tenth".
We couldn't possibly all have been that good, could we? If I was tenth, some of those other tenth-place writers HAD to have been awful.
Then I think...maybe it was me. Maybe mine was last. Maybe no one could stand to read after the first or fiftieth page...
I appreciated the opportunity, yet I am plagued with doubts. Still.

Jo Eberhardt said...

This answer and advice filled me with the kind of warm fuzzies normally reserved for the end of teen-filled, coming of age, 80s movies.

I hope that doesn't mess with your sharky credibility.

Unknown said...

This reminds me when I sent a full to a requesting agent and was filled with the "she's just being niceities" Then someone cut through the crap, just like you did and said, "Agents are too busy to be nice."
Enough said.