Monday, July 21, 2014

Animals do it, too.

Are you a follower or a leader? There was a time in my early writing career when I was more of an observer than a follower or a leader. I 'd have been the duck sitting on the bank taking it all in. I am not much of a follower, don't often fall into formation and do things the cookie cutter way just because everyone else is. I learn from others, and then I decide what works for me. I recognize my strengths and weaknesses, and I am not afraid to step out of my comfort zone and try things my way. Rules were made to be broken. Some risk-taking makes you stronger, and my own philosophy has always been, NO is not a stop sign; it's a detour.
Early on, I joined writer's groups, sat back in the shadows and listened and watched. Then when I felt less nervous and more comfortable, I shared. I'd rather have honest feedback than sweet talk. A critique is meant to be helpful not hurtful, a negative comment, if need be, should be sandwiched between two positives.

At first I thought a child was injured or protesting having to leave the petting zoo. This loud mouth Billy goat (below) reminded me of some of the blowhards I have encountered in my writing life. From family members to agents expressing opinions about my work, I have heard it and seen it all. Bleating, I call it! Disturbing if you focus on it, but learn to tune it out and believe in your capabilities. All of us are smarter, stronger and more resilient than we think. We may not know it yet.

NY Agent: "Why would I even WANT to read your novel about the 70s? I lived it!"

Family member: My daughter and I read this on a camping trip and we can't believe how unlikable your main character is! This is the 20th century; people don't haul their own water any more!"

Editor #1: "Well I've seen everything! You killed off your protagonist! Automatic rejection."
Editor #2: I disagree, and like the way she did it and added the twist.

Literary magazine editor: "Holy shit! We were neighbors in Alaska, but I was just a kid attending the school there. Can't use your work, but remember...?"

I received a rejection yesterday, one like I have never received before, and it made me chuckle. Instead of the editor tearing my piece apart, the response was, "We read your work and we enjoyed it very much, and that is no bullshit! It's just not what we need for this particular issue."

I was encouraged to submit again in the future.

That person, while maybe a bit crass, spoke from the heart, and I appreciated that rejection. That's what I mean by breaking the rules. When I was very young and dumb, instead of sending a resume to a school board, I sent a heartfelt, handwritten letter telling this small school district about my willingness to do whatever it took. They called me in for an interview. HIRED!

Whether you are a rejected writer, a grieving widow, mom, dad, divorcee, or pet owner; or if you have just lost your job, don't curl into a ball and give up. Deal with it your way, in your own time. Each of us is different and it takes some of us a little longer to get back up on our feet. Ultimately it is up to you though, to stay down or make the attempt to stand up, to step out in faith, to address your pain, lick your wounds but not wallow in the coulda-shoulda-woulda muddy pool of despair.

I firmly believe everything happens for a reason, even if we don't like or understand it. In my personal life, I try to put myself ahead of any negative situation and imagine healing and positive change. Easy? Not at all,  but it is a survival technique that works for me. I wish you peace and healing if you are hurting, despondent, sad, ill, uncertain, afraid.

Look at those dirty piggies. They are all the same age. Now, look at the next picture.

This nearly weaned piglet walked over to her mama and latched on. She did not suckle. Her mom did not reject her. She needed the comfort of closeness, not mud to wallow in like her litter mates.
Don't be afraid to ask for what you need.


Sioux said...

Linda--You have succeeded at the high level that you have because you are a rule-breaker, you don't hear "no" and lay down and die, and you write from the heart.

Hey! "Write from the Heart." That would be a great blog title. ;)

Bookie said...

Very nice job here...this could be a submission! I got a rejection last week and they said they liked my writing style...would I please consider sending something else. Think this was just a nice form letter? :)

Optimistic Existentialist said...

You are right - everything DOES happen for a reason. Without a doubt. I love your introspection here. That will take you so incredibly far...

Susan Sundwall said...

Absolutely Love this! You rock.

Val said...

Shunning the spotlight, I would consider myself a follower, not one to stick my neck out. However, since I complain about almost everything, with the attitude that I could do it better, I'm probably a leader. Or a really, really egotistical boor.

Opinions are has one. Writers are not mockingbirds. We must each sing our own song. Some people will like it, some won't. What a boring world it would be if there was only one melody.

K9friend said...

Sage advice, Linda, for writers and non-writers alike.

Critter Alley

Cathy C. Hall said...

It's funny, Linda. I didn't know I needed to read that until I read it.

You said a mouthful--and you said it well. Thanks.

Tammy said...

Lots of wisdom in this piece. And I love the honesty in the editor's letter!

Daisy said...

Wonderful post, Linda. Thank you for all the words of wisdom.

Lynn said...

Love this and you are so on target - as always!

River said...

That muddy pool of despair is fine for a spot of puddle jumping but not for any longer than it takes you to jump over it.
On the other hand, I do like my comfort zone very much.

Susan said...

Hi Linda...

I'm definitely not a follower. Have always kind of beaten to my own drum.

Love all your analogies in this post.

Sometimes I need to do what the little weaned piglet did----ask for what I need. People are not too good at mind-reading. ha!

Thanks for your visits, Linda. They make me happy. Susan

Lisa Claro said...

Fantastic post! I love your statement about a stop sign being a detour. Awesome. I'm going to print it out and post it to my laptop.

It's not always easy to spread our wings after a string of disappointments, but if we stay on the ground, we'll never know what it is to fly.

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