Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Staying Positive in a Negative World

Not a day goes by that I don't see an agent post something on Twitter about getting a nasty response to a rejection. Or an author bashing other authors over writing craft, word choices etc. It's disappointing, but I know it's the reality of life. People don't take rejection well. And don't vent their frustrations in perhaps the most appropriate ways.

From day one, I've decided that I'm not going to head down that negative path. When I put something out on social media, I want it to be positive, uplifting, and hopefully encouraging. It's too easy now a days to jump on the bashing bandwagon. Rip an author for killing a beloved character, or get angry at an agent for sending a form rejection on a full request. When I see people doing this I wonder, what are you getting out of that? Yes, you're venting a frustration, but is it furthering your career? It may feel good at the time, but are you going to look back at your feed and regret it? For most people, I'd say yes.

See here's the thing, this business is all about rejection. It first happens when you share your work with a CP who may not warm to your writing style. Then it will come when you query and you get rejection after rejection. If you're lucky enough to connect with an agent, it may appear during the submission process. And in turn from an editor who dislikes one of your favorite scenes. And just when you're at the golden point of publication, you may get negative reviews from readers.

Negativity is a part of  life, I get that. But how we choose to address that painful rejection of our work is totally in our hands. When I get a "no" from an agent, I turn the frustration into a driving energy to push my work harder. Make my craft better. When a CP rips into my manuscript, I step back from it and remind myself that they're not tearing me down as a person, rather challenging me to become a better wordsmith. 

The choice is in your hands on how you want to be portrayed in this business. You can decide to be that person who always shouts ugly things from the rooftops when they get a negative review or an agent turns them away. But, I have to ask, "Where is that going to get you? Who's going to want to work with you? Is that response going to get you published?" Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. But it will earn you a reputation that's for sure.

For me, I don't see the point in it. Put good out in the world and will come back. Now, let me clear: I'm not a total Pollyanna. I get pissed when I think my manuscript is there, and I don't get requests. Believe me, I can curse, and shout, and throw things with the best of them. But, I choose to do that in private. I've heard too many times how small the publishing world is, and I believe it.

So as a writer, I want to know how you handle your frustrations? Do you think it's okay to vent on social media when you have a valid complaint? Do you have good ways to deal with a rejection? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.


  1. I loved this post!

    I think what people who bash certain authors don't think about is - first that those authors are people too - but also, anyone looking at that comment is a potential reader. If a reader loved Twilight and you make fun of it, will they ever buy your book?

    And complaining to or about agents is nothing but burning bridges.

    Since we all get frustrated sometimes, what's helpful is not only to be able to rant in your own home, but also in private to a select few people who understand when you just need to let off steam.

  2. You make great points, Amy. If we use the rejections to enable us to improve things (and even point us in specific directions) then we're using it in a constructive way. :) And as in any line of work, there is *always* room for improvement! As for venting... I'd say that's what writers groups are for... because everyone needs to vent at times to people who "get" it, and a group's "private" infrastructure is the best place to do so!

  3. I agree with so much about your post - lashing out at people who didn't jive with your work because they didn't jive with your work is just dumb. A polite "no" from an agent is a bummer, but not worth retaliation. Sometimes, though, there is a place for complaining.

    I love this article about complaints: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/06/2013615143512361164.html

    For here, though, I'll just quote the last two paragraphs.

    "People hate complaining because they do not like to listen. When you listen to someone complaining, you are forced to acknowledge them as a human being instead of a category. You are forced to witness how social systems are borne out in personal experience, to recognise that hardship hurts, that solutions are not as simple as they seem.

    You are forced to trust, and you are forced to care. In complaint lies a path to compassion."

  4. Rejection--get mildly upset and move on. That's the only way I can think of to deal with it. As for venting, I will not use social media to bash another person. I might bash humanity as a whole, but not one particular person. It's just not worth it.

  5. Of course we get upset when we get rejections/rejected but don't do it on social media. I may have gotten a rejection from an agent I was really hoping to connect with but I am mum about it online. My cats sure get an earful though! I cry over it and then move on. I'm usually writing the next thing and I concentrate on that. Writing makes my mood better, in fact if I'm grumpy my family wants to know if I wrote that day or not. Of course I may just be hungry. LOL.


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