Happy New Year, writers! I’m not a formal maker of resolutions, but I do find that the beginning of a new calendar year is a good time to reflect. Where am I now? Where do I want to be at this time next year? So if you’re in the same boat, here’s a question I think you should consider:
how positive are you?
This can apply to writers at any stage, whether you’re attempting to get started on your first novel or well into your publishing career. But I think it hits people most squarely after they’ve finished a novel and are out on the query-go-round for the first time, switching from the it’s-all-about-the-writing focus of creating the novel to the potentially confusing, complex, and rejection-packed process of seeking a publisher. You’ve created something you’re proud of. You’ve worked hard. That novel is yours. And now, you’re giving up all control for the first time.
And man, have I seen some writers turn negative with a quickness.
I don’t mean that real writers don’t get sad. And I don’t mean that you can’t seek support from other writers when the process gets you down (actually, I recommend it.) What I mean is that a positive attitude has a number of clear benefits:
- It puts you back in the driver’s seat. Frankly, it’s easier to be negative, which is why it happens so much. “Agents are only in it for the money.” “Editors don’t edit anymore anyway.” “Publishers are too busy putting out celebrity books to look at good stuff like mine.” “Amazon reviews are B.S.” “It’s just impossible to get review coverage for a debut novel.” Blaming the system means that you never could have succeeded in the first place, so it isn’t hurtful or painful if you don’t succeed. But blaming the system also means that you’re not looking at how you can succeed. It’s up to you how you’re going to move forward. Keep that control. Know that in the long run, your success is always in your own hands.
- Positivity breeds positivity. One of the most amazing and wonderful things about being a writer is the support you get from other writers. It’s a community. It’s a great place to be. And if you stomp in with both guns blazing, screaming about the wretched commercialism that packs American bookshelves with nothing but insipid, unoriginal work, you may find that already-established writers — whose books are the very ones you’re insulting — may not welcome you quite as warmly. (Also, I am frankly stunned at the nasty things writers seeking agents will write about agents in general on the internet. Stunned.) Negativity breeds negativity. Don’t get in that loop.
- Over the long haul, it’s just more fun. You’re going to have down days. Guaranteed. Personally, I expect a lot of nail-biting and fraught whimpering as reviews of The Kitchen Daughter start to come out in the next couple of months. If all the reviews are fabulous, great! But if and when a bad one comes in, I can either react negatively (“That person doesn’t know what she’s talking about!” “I got a bad review/ I wrote a bad book/ no one will like it ever/ iiiiice creeeeeeam…” “Well, reviews are stupid and no one reads them anyway.”) or positively (“Well, that’s a bad one, at least it’s a review. Carry on!”) But you can let a down day be just a day, and then move on from it in the morning. Because if you don’t, it becomes a bad week, or a bad month, or a bad year, and who wants that?
How will you harness the power of positivity for your writing in 2011?
(Photo by CarbonNYC)