Writing Wednesday: Keyboard Psychology
Welcome to the first Writing Wednesday. I feel there needs to be another word in there. Wacky Writing Wednesday? Wretched Writing Wednesday? That might be too long.
Anyway, I struggled for a while to think of a topic. Usually I use issues that have come up recently in real life, some blatantly ripped off from other Internet friends.
Since I finally psyched myself up enough to send out some queries last week, I thought it would be good to talk about how to deal with rejection.
I’m not a psychologist or even a fake psychologist like Dr. Phil, so don’t take what I say as gospel. It’s just my opinion. I say this for legal reasons in case someone decides to jump off a bridge or something after reading this. You never can tell with some people.
The first tenet of my philosophy is simple: Life Goes On. I’m not talking about the crappy TV show from the early ‘90s with the Down’s Syndrome kid in it. I’m just saying that whatever bad happens to you, life goes on in the rest of the world. Whether it’s a family member dying, a beloved pet getting run over, or simply a form rejection letter, life goes on. So there’s no sense sitting around moping or bawling about it. Unless you’re a girl and then you’ll probably cry about it a little; just try not to take more than a couple of hours.
The important thing is to get back in the saddle as soon as possible. Get things back to normal, or as normal as they can be. In the case of form rejections, get back to writing something—even in a crappy blog—as soon as you can. Otherwise you give a chance for doubts to start creeping in. Take the same strategy with a bad critique too. The sooner you get back to doing something constructive, the less time you’ll have for destructive behaviors, aka whatever Charlie Sheen is doing right now.
The second tenet is this: Other People Have it Worse Than You. Did your mom ever tell you when you refused to eat that there were starving kids in China or Africa or wherever that would be glad to have it? Well mine didn’t, but I never had any trouble eating—clearly. Still, it’s always good to remember the principle of catharsis, which is feeling good after realizing someone else has it worse.
I mean right now there are people in Japan recovering from an earthquake, people in Libya being bombed or shot at, people dying of AIDS in Africa, kids being sold as sex slaves in Asia, and so on and so forth. Hell, I work in Detroit, the city of catharsis. Drive through the ghettos sometime and wherever you live will look a whole lot better.
Tenet two and a half would be: No One Likes a Whiner. I was watching a show on Canadian TV once and this woman was going on and on to her therapist because she didn’t have the job of her dreams and the man of her dreams, and so on and so forth. Oh, boo hoo hoo. You ain’t starving, you ain’t got a fatal disease, you ain’t being sold into slavery, you live in a country where they ain’t gonna stone you for showing your ankles. What the fuck are you bitching about? You got friends, family, a job, and personal freedom, which is more than many other people got. So shut the fuck up already.
I mean, do you think I want to read about you getting rejected by Ms. Big Literary Agent? Do I want to read your diatribe about how much Ms. Agent of My Dreams sucks? No. I got my own problems. So does everyone else. Stop whining.
The third tenet is: Plenty of Fish in the Sea. After the woman of your dreams—or man of your dreams, whatever—dumps you, some well-meaning friend will probably tell you this. And you’ll probably disagree because he/she was The One. But it’s true. There are plenty more where that came from. I mean, do the math, there are nearly seven billion people on Earth, why fixate on just one? At least until the zombie apocalypse when available males/females who aren’t undead, horribly mutated freaks will be hard to come by.
By the same token, an agent who rejects you is just one of thousands. Writers like to think of agents as Masters of the Universe, but most of them are small fish in a big pond. So do what any good fisherman does: put some fresh bait on your line and toss it back in the water. The next one might get away too, but still, there are plenty more where that came from.
The fourth and final tenet is: There’s Nothing You Can Do About It Anyway. This is what goes through my head when some jerk cuts me off on the highway. Sure I’d like to give in to my road rage and run his ass off the road, but what’s that gonna do? I’ll wind up getting hit with a deductible, rental car costs, ticket from the police, hospital bills when the guy gets out of the car to beat me senseless, and so on. And for what? A moment of satisfaction? Dude, it’s just not worth it.
By the same token, when an agent rejects you, you might have thoughts of going to his/her office with a gun and holding him/her hostage or maybe just putting a couple of bullets in his/her kneecaps, but what’s that gonna do? You’ll wind up in jail and for what? A moment of satisfaction? Dude, it’s just not worth it.
(Though actually if the case gets enough publicity then someone might approach me about publishing my book to make some quick cash off the whole thing. Hurm…how much is a flight to New York?)
(The preceding parenthetical thought was for entertainment purposes only…so far as you know…yet.)
By now you’re probably thinking, Jeeze, these aren’t very good tips. I mean my whole philosophy seems like a mixture of stoicism, fatalism, and outright denial. Damn straight. Most of us live in denial; we’re just in too deep to know it. So might as well add a little more to the pot, right?
Friday is the first-ever Friday Flix, where I’m going to recommend some writing-related movies. Have your Netflix queue on standby!