Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Upside and Downside of Rejection: One and the Same

Writer blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media have made it easier (and faster) for authors to get their work noticed by other writers, agents and publishing houses. One phenomenon to arise from this instant accessibility is the CONTEST!  Your first 250 words! Your query letter!  Your most suspenseful scene! Your best dialogue!

There are numerous schools of thought about contests. Let's look at two. One lauds contests as a means to land an agent. And success stories abound about how a writer found his/her agent in this way. Critics, though, say that contests (when entered too often) deluge the same agents and publishers with your work…that you appear ‘over-eager’ and ‘desperate.’

Duh. That’s how many writers feel. Excited to get their hard work noticed, desperate to find that one agent who’ll take a chance.

Regardless of how you feel about contests, the downside and upside are one in the same: you get to experience rejection. Lots of it. Some implied (no requests!) and some stated outright through harsh critiques and feedback.

It’s all valuable. We learn to trust our guts on what feedback to take to heart and what feedback to leave behind. We choose to develop a thicker skin and move forward, or we let rejection damage our self- worth and shatter dreams.

Don’t get me wrong -- rejection sucks. REALLY sucks. So find other writers with whom to commiserate and stock up on dark chocolate. (I’m set on both counts.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Life's Short -- Eat Cheetos

My fingers are stained orange as I type this because I ate crunchy Cheetos for lunch.  You’ll see why later.

None of us knows the exact time and date of our deaths. Mortality statistics give us the impression that we'll live to a ripe old age (76.3 years for males; 81.1 years for females).  Without a firm idea of the time we have left, some of us put off doing things (saying things), believing we have all the time in the world.

That’s why I read obits. These stand out in my memory.
  • the vivacious 19-year-old woman who suffered a fatal seizure
  • the 45-year-old woman who died after a recurrence of breast cancer 
  • the 52-year-old father who had a heart attack while sitting in front of his home computer
  • the adventurous 23-year-old who died in an avalanche while snowboarding
I don’t know any of these people personally. But I wonder how they spent their lives. Did the 45-year-old woman always skip dessert thinking the calories weren't worth it? Did the father regret how often he brought work home instead of playing catch with his sons? Did the 19-year-old have a fight with her dad and didn’t have a chance to say she was sorry?

Whether we live 20 years or 100 years, life is short.  And regrets are a bitch.
  • Call the estranged relative.
  • Take the vacation.
  • Write the book.
  • Retire at age 55.
  • Buy the house (or new chair, or bicycle, or shoes).
  • Eat Cheetos for lunch.