This post was inspired by a feature in my local newspaper back in 2008 describing do’s and don’ts for dealing with the breakup of a relationship. It struck me at the time that some of this advice (or variations thereof) could also apply when we get a rejection, bad review, or painful contest critique.
If one or more of those shockers hasn’t come your way yet, you haven’t been writing long enough--or else you’ve never, ever, ever risked letting your manuscript be seen by anyone besides adoring family members or friends who would rather lie through their teeth than bruise your sensitive writer’s ego.
On the other hand, if you’re already courageously sending your precious words out into the world, here are some suggestions for handling the inevitable writing disappointments:
Do not, under any circumstances, make any life-altering decisions (such as throwing out your computer or burning all your manuscripts) until at least two weeks have passed. If you still don’t have any perspective, wait another two weeks. Or a month. Or a year.
Stay away from sharp objects. (Ask my kids about this one if you dare! Or read about it here.)
Don’t post a YouTube video of you dissing the editor/agent/judge/reviewer.
Don’t send a hate e-mail or text message. Even anonymously. Tech experts have ways of finding out who you are. Just watch CSI or NCIS if you don’t believe me.
If you can’t resist venting about your disappointment on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook page, thoroughly disguise the details and NEVER name names! The Internet has a long, l-o-o-o-o-n-g memory (and so do agents and editors, I promise). Better yet, avoid any kind of Internet-related commentary. Eat chocolate until the urge passes.
Don’t badmouth editors, agents, or fellow writers to your writers group. You will be the one who ends up looking like Miss (or Mr.) Whiny-Pants.
Vent only to someone you are absolutely 525% positive would never, ever reveal a confidence, even if tortured with chocolate deprivation or offered a three-book contract if only she will reveal your secrets. And then think twice about it.
Mailing anthrax will get you 20 years to life. Mailing chocolate makes friends. Unless it melts.
Don’t try to change your detractor’s mind with pleading, wheedling, begging, or threats. See chocolate advice above.
If you run into this person at a writers conference, be polite, friendly, and professional. Your reputation is on the line at this point, not theirs. You never know who may be watching. Like maybe the agent who was seconds away from signing you, or the editor who just decided you would not be the kind of author she’d ever want to work with in a million years.
Send a gracious thank-you note, no matter how badly you’re hurting. As the Bible says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you” (Prov. 25:21-22). If not with a six-figure contract offer, at least with enough $$ to drown your sorrows in a grande mocha latte.
Okay, Seekervillagers, anything you’d add to the list? Any blunders you’d like to confess? Any public apologies you feel compelled to make, anonymously or otherwise?
While you’re thinking about it, I’ll pass around this mega-sized box of truffles I just opened. Help yourselves . . . especially anyone I may have inadvertently whined about at some point in my career.
Award-winning author Myra Johnson is a Texan through and through, but (except for the scarcity of real Texas barbecue) she has no regrets about her move two years ago to the scenic Carolinas. Myra’s recent novels include A Horseman’s Heart, A Horseman’s Gift, and A Horseman’s Hope (Heartsong Presents). Her first Heartsong Presents novel, Autumn Rains, won the 2005 RWA Golden Heart and was a 2010 ACFW Carol Award finalist. Myra and her husband of 41 years proudly claim two beautiful daughters and two fine sons-in-law with huge hearts for ministry. Six precious grandchildren take up another big chunk of Myra’s heart. The Johnsons also enjoy bird-watching from the back porch and pampering a very spoiled furry black lapdog. Learn more about Myra and her books at www.MyraJohnson.com.