Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Best of Seekerville from the Archives and First Five Pages Critique

Seeking Positive Influencers by Ruth Logan Herne

"Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays, it insists on it." Russell Baker

"You cannot succeed by yourself. It’s hard to find a rich hermit." Jim Rohn

"Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages, it is the rule." Friedrich Nietzsche

Morning, all! Ruthy here. We've got a great buffet breakfast lined up for you guys and I brewed a fresh pot of joe...

Grab a mug. There's flavored creamer to your right and food to your left. Every table is stocked with a loaves-and-fishes bowl of M&M peanut candies. Yup, you got it: bottomless! Talk about comfort food! Sit back and relax because today we're going to chat it up about influencers and I don't mean the kind who post kindly reviews on B&N or pass a new novel around, drumming up new readers.


This kind of influencer, good or bad, is all up to us, the writer.

Modern day writers and publishers make a fortune off books homilizing a positive attitude. Head to your local Barnes and Noble, Borders, or the public library. Each one of these devotes precious end-cap or display table space to this sought after information, plus an individual shelving section designated for the same purpose.

Scan and gaze upon the proliferation of morale building, self-help volumes abounding there, geared to help us be a more positive, productive, uplifted, goal-seeking, outcome-oriented person.

Now I'm not going to lecture about this growing trend. Sheesh. We'd need a host of blogs just to skim the surface of why people who live in the greatest country on earth, rife with freedom and opportunity, can't make themselves happy. We'll just save that little ditty for another day.

Jim Rohn's website deals with the topic for free, my favorite price tag. A click of the mouse and you’re in, ready to absorb words of wisdom from one of America’s most renowned business philosophers. With over fifty-seven years in broadcasting, motivational speaking, writing, and recording, Rohn has seen it all and addresses the topic of negativity point blank.

Avoid it at all costs.

Rohn’s pretty direct about the whole issue, and the man breeds success like Anheuser-Busch breeds Clydesdales. Big and strong, with perfect deportment. (I can't mention Clydesdales without remembering Superbowl commercials... The one with Hank, the rejected horse who worked with unwavering persistence to make the team, guided by the "Pauly" Dalmation, while the theme from Rocky plays in the background??? Oh my stars, I'm tearing up just thinking about it!

Or the donkey who tried hair extensions because he wanted to be a Clydesdale???? Oy vay, pass the tissues, I'm all ver klempt here!)

You’re a writer, at a specific point in your career. This varies depending on your work, motivation, time spent, etc., but the fact is, you’re moving toward something at a pace of your choosing.

Who do you hang with? Who are your associates? Your partners, critiquers, friends and cohorts. Are they a positive influence? Do they pretend to be a positive influence, even as they drag you into the depths of despair? Whose fault is that?

You know that answer as well as I do. We allow others to influence our lives by allowing them a portion of our lives.

Rohn puts it this way: "Some people you can afford to spend a few minutes with, but not a few hours."

Pretty succinct. We pick and choose a portion of the effect on our lives, our careers and our writing by the company we keep. Positive or negative, strong or weak, accepting or complaining, we make choices without always considering the level of influence that association allows.

You want to be good at what you do? Avoid the “misery loves company” set. You want to be the best you can be? Steer clear of those who settle for mediocrity. Do you have goals and aspirations whose glow illuminates the end of the tunnel? A tunnel can seem pretty long and dark when traveled with low expectations.

Rohn says: "Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else's hands, but not you."

Limiting negative exposure time may seem simplistic, but it’s a huge step toward being the more assertive, positive, successful writer you want to be. Success threatens some people. Unfortunately, there are those who find great comfort in limiting your success to their levels. What’s up with that? Not kosher. Definitely not something a true friend would do, but that takes us back to the whole misery loves company theory. Your success may reflect their lack. That’s a bitter pill for some to swallow.

Your achievements as a person, daughter, husband, wife, father, sister, writer, Christian, homemaker, lawyer, nurse, midwife, teacher, accountant, etc. depend on you. They are not guided by luck or circumstance. You are the captain of your ship. The tack you take is yours to decide. Fill your sails with wind and dare the open sea, or drift aimlessly. So much of what we choose is guided in small but steady ways by the company we keep. The influences we allow in our lives.

Have you noticed when a person wants to help a struggling marriage, they seek the wisdom and guidance of those who are successfully married? When that same person wants to end a marriage, they seek the discontented, those whose marriages have failed. We seek our ends by the choices we make, large and small. Want success? Surround yourself with those willing to work for it.

"Rohn contends: "Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day."

If we waste time on the shallow voices in our lives, we tune out the valuable ones, those that challenge us to do our best. Rohn advises us to seek out and be around those who have something of value to share. He believes that influence can be both powerful and subtle.

"…You wouldn’t let someone push you off course, but you might let someone nudge you off course and not even realize it."

Oh, yeah. Most of us can see that all around us. The subtle, invasive negatives we allow into our lives. Avoid them. Limit them. They are a downfall.

Helen Keller said: "The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision."

Prophetic words of wisdom from a woman who overcame adversity that would boggle the mind of the sighted, hearing community. I couldn’t agree more.

Seek success. It won’t just find you. Choose your associates with careful decision. Above all, challenge yourself to rise above, be the best you can be. It’s the least you can do with the marvelous gift of life you’ve been given, no strings attached. Show your gratitude with your growth and heightened expectations. Your shining light can help others ‘see’ the way.

Candles are popular right now. They come tall and short, thin and wide, scented or non. Some clever person even thought to fashion them in jars. Pretty savvy! A jarred candle has a built-in holder, no dripping wax, a wick that burns bright and a cover to smother the flame…

Which are you? The wick or the cover?

I thought so. Examine your work relationships. Make them all they can be. Let your light shine, even if you have to trim your ‘wick’ or polish your ‘jar’ by adjusting work schedules and relationships. Seek the strength and favor of positive people. Aim high, and don’t let anyone suck the wind from your sails. If you do, whose fault is it?

(Inserting motherly arched brow and look of patient understanding here…)


Ruth Logan Herne likes to be called “Ruthy”, she loves God, her family, her country, coffee and chocolate, thinks snakes should always live outside, possums should leave cat food alone and all grandchildren should be named for her. A mother and grandmother to seriously smart (read: know-it-all) young people, she writes stories of humor, hope and faith, embracing God’s love and life’s opportunities. Now an established author with Love Inspired Books, all three books of her North Country books secured the coveted 4 ½ Star Romantic Times rating which only means that some reviewers CAN be bought. She’s looking forward to the April release of Reunited Hearts, the first book of her “Men of Allegany County “ series. Contact her at or through Seekerville where Tina screens her mail because Ruthy is THAT sensitive.

This post first appeared in Seekerville on September 23, 2008.

Don't forget...

Today is the last day to be considered for our weekly critique.
More info here.

And this is the last 5 page critique until 2011,(thank you, Meghan!)
so we'll be giving away TWO critiques.


  1. I think you mean until 2011 ;-)

    Please enter me, meghan.schuessler {at} yahoo {dot} com

  2. Ruthy:

    Since you've already provided the coffee, here's a huge pot of tea.

    Heavy sermon.

    Good advice.

    I've already had a 5 page critique on my WIP. Really helpful.

    What I really need right now is a critique on my web page with 5 links. I coded it with HTML, starting from nothing, but I haven't had the courage to show it to anyone except my daughter.


  3. HAAAAAAA, thanks for catching that Meghan!!!

  4. Ruthy, excellent as always.

    Positive thinking and surrounding oneself with a blanket of good, solid thoughts is so important. I have rediscovered Guideposts after years of reading it. I need to be reminded at times to be positive. Between this post and my daily dose of Guideposts, I think I have had a booster shot!

    No need for a critique unless of course you want to judge the lemon zest sugar cookies I brought this morning.

    Peace, Julie

  5. I put judge thinking contest instead of critique. Helen, I am going for the tea. Need that caffeine. Plus I think the cookies will go better with it.

    peace, julie

  6. Wow -- that woke me up big time and I'm ready to go out and conquer the world! Or at least my last shift at the college until 2011. Yippppeeeee. I'm ready for a break from the part-time job!

    There are so many gems in this post -- but one that really slapped me in the face was the quote from Helen Keller: "The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision."


  7. This is a God-timed post! I am in the midst of a miserable family situation involving a sibling and his family. Not me, or my family. It is totally his issue. But I am knee deep in every nuance - because he has no-one else. It has greatly affected my emotions and writing life. I am moving closer to God and putting up some limits/parameters for contact in this ongoing saga. Thank you, Ruthy! Please enter me for the first five pages critique, thanks.

  8. Excellent advice, Ruthy! No wonder I love hanging out in Seekerville! Lots of positive vibs here.

    I'll admit that my "To Do" list is trying to smother my wick, but I'm resisting with all my might.

    Thanks for the breakfast buffet! Off to write!


  9. Beautifuly written and postive kick in the pants, Ruthy.
    Thanks. (hobbling away)

    I'd like ot go in the running for hte critique, please - pepperbasham(at)yahoo(dot)com

  10. This is why I haven't 'outed' myself as a writer to many people. There are quite a few who know, but also a bunch who don't, because they will not be positive influencers.

    Someday I will... Like once I have an agent and/or contract.

    In the meantime, I get to go take 7 of us in two cars 2.5 hours each way to see dad/stepmom for 3 hours and turn around and come back...

    At least we have portable DVD players this year...

    I'm so in for the critique.

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  11. Hey, Ruthy!!! I hang out with God and let his Word play in my head, so I guess that's the key to my success, since I'm not by nature a positive person! I'm afraid I have a bit of the melancholy in me. But I fight it. That counts for something!

    I also love to encourage other people. Encouragement is very important. Not listening to negativity is also very important. The devil will whisper some really ugly things to you, and I've learned you have to reject that stuff or it will overtake your life! Not good.

    Thanks for the reminders, Ruthy! You are a very strong-minded woman! Everybody needs a friend like you. :-) Love ya, and have a merry Christmas, as I know you will. Hugs from Me.

  12. Mel says I'm a strong-minded woman....


    My family would agree. Then they'd sigh. Frown. Some would shrug. But they'd agree again, LOL!

    I think I wrote this when a very negative influence was trying to shadow the work involved for success.

    A quote I love and use often but didn't use in this post is this one from Eleanor Roosevelt:

    "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."

    I love that. Concise. Succinct. We carry the responsibility for our feelings and actions, hence the firm 24-hour whining rule among the Seekers....

    I'm sharing eggnog. And noodle cookies. And chocolate covered cherries Dave brought home because he knows I love them.

    Such a nice $4 surprise.


  13. Helen, totally awesome knock-out on the web stuff. I keep running out of time.

    Gotta revisit my scheduling for 2011.

    5-Hour Energy, here I come!

  14. Oh, Ruthy, you touched on a subject near and dear to my heart in this classic post. I have been soooo blessed by the wonderful people in my cyber and face-to-face worlds on every step of my writing journey.

    When I began writing, I knew no other writers. In those days, my family and longtime friends supported and encouraged me. Some of those dear people volunteered to read my early works aka pages upon pages of pathetic prose. May the Lord bless them for their patience and kindness. Even though they waded through nearly a ream of newbie dreck, they gushed about the stories. Gotta love loyal friends.

    Then came the memorable day when Tina played Nancy Drew and contacted me through my husband's car club. She invited me to Seekerville to be a guest blogger. My question to her: "What's that?" I had no idea what a wonderful place Seekerville was or even what a blog was. Tina's invitation opened a whole new world to me, and I'm beyond grateful.

    I'm where I am as a writer today due in large part to the awesome people who have encouraged and supported me the past five years. Talk about a positive influence. This is one place I'm happy to visit because I get to be "under the influence" of so many talented, fun, and generous people. Thanks for being such a great group!!!

  15. I agree with Janet. Seekerville is a very positive influence for me as a writer, and as a Christian woman.

    I also completely 'get' what Carol said about outing herself as a writer. I've kept that on the QT for the most part at work, and even after 10 years, my kids just sort of get that glazed over look when I talk about it.

    No wonder we all hang out here.

  16. Very positive Ruthy.

    I'm also positive that I will pick up your next book when it comes out in April. :-)

  17. SOOO good :)Needed this :) And yes, Seekerville is definitely a positive place :)

    And by the way, I got the five-page critique, and it was AMAZING.

  18. Kav~ Helen Keller got me too. Yikes!

    Ruthy~ This one's getting starred. I'll need to come back to it someday.

    So far, I'm lucky, most everyone I know knows I'm writing. Church, family, friends (since I have about 3 of those it wasn't hard to tell them all). My mom even gives my blog address to people so they can find me. So far, everyone is positive and encouraging.

    And Seekerville is just amazing. (I love the 24 hour rule, that's gonna come in handy some day.) Where else can you find a network of love, support, prayer, etc. along with endless excellent examples of how to do writing right? All in one place? NO WHERE!

    I'm not gonna enter for the critique. Maybe in a few weeks. Would it be cheating to enter for it before I decide if I should enter the same pages in Genesis? Lord knows I need all the help I can get.

    Thanks for this Ladies.

  19. Wowzers. No wonder I was ORDERED here today! This is nothing new to me (we've listened to Jim Rohn for years and LOVE him!!) but I sure did need this post. This week, no this past month, has been a bear and just about succeeded in pulling me into his cave for a long hibernation. BUT God is good. He's Lord of those awful bears out there too! =] =]

    Thanks so much for reposting this! I really needed it.

    And yes, I'd love to be entered in for the critique. You ladies are TOPS.

  20. well shoot! I didn't include my email addy. *eye roll* Here it is: patterly {at}gmail{dot}com

    Thanks! =]

  21. You're very welcome! And thank you for the peanut M&Ms, they're my favorite kind! :)

  22. Wow, this was really good. It was a great thing for me to be reminded up. More than I thought I needed, so thank you. 'Nuff said.

  23. This is why we hang out in Seekerville!!! The food, the positive glass half full attitudes! The exclamation points!!!!!!!!! :)

  24. OM, Ruthy! Do you keep those Pom-Poms fluffed year round?? I wanted to break out an old fashioned high school cheer!

    Friday Night Lights stuff.

    I agree with you completely! No matter where you are in your writing, work, relationship, etc - life, you always need to look to the more experienced.

    Reach higher.

    Work harder.

    Excellent words of wisdom. That's why I always listen to you.

    That and the fear of a steel toed boot in the pants, LOL!!

  25. What a fantastic motivational post, Ruthy! Thank you for the kick in the pants, too. I re-read it for the full import of its message. I need to be more positive and intentional in completing my WIP. You gals are the very best. Would love to be considered for a 5 page critique. Wishing everyone a good weekend.

  26. Sorry, I HAD to clean. Just had to. And I'm not neary done, (hahahahahaha!!!!) but I had to come back, breathe, and see you guys.

    I hope every one of you (those who post and don't post, I know there's a bunch o' youse who kibbitz on the sidelines) knows how special you all are to us. This brotherhood and sisterhood is what binds us, and whether it's in our writing arena of life, our family arena, our goof-off arena...

    That love and support of a group that believes in you, in your vision is huge.

    Keli, you made me cry. God bless you, you love me even though I pouted and pouted when you finaled in the GH and I didn't.

    And I've got BIG top teeth, so pouting is very unattractive, LOL!!!

    Patty, sweet seein' you! Meghan, have I mentioned that I love the name Meghan? And that our baby goddaughter is "Megan"....

    Love it. We found her the cutest dress at Crazy Eight last night. Brown plaid and ruffles to go with her big, brown eyes... So stinkin' cute. Great name.

    Julie, I laughed when I re-read this today.... I sound SO MEAN....

    And I do remember thinking it would behoove me to kick someone in the butt that day... ;)

    But I didn't. Instead, I bullied all o' youse!!! Way more productive for all of us and keeps me out of the confessional.

    Although today (so far) I ate a half box of those chocolate covered cherries.

    And for the next two weeks I refuse to worry about it. There's all of Jan-March to eat lettuce and cabbage.

    For these two weeks.... A little yum is okay!

  27. Jenna, hey, I relate. I think most of us would!

    God bless you. Believe. Pray. Here's a cyber hug and some chocolate chinese noodle cookies.

    They help everything. I promise.

  28. Ruthy,
    You are a great counselor! I love this post. I thank God for a wonderful husband who is the most positive thinking cheerful guy I know! :)

    I have students who I try to help by having them identify their own "cognitive distortions." Basically just 'stinkin thinkin' that needs a major positive spin.
    Merry Christmas!

  29. Jillian, I love that term "Stinkin' thinkin'!"

    Perfect. And kiss that hubby. What a wonderful blessing that is.

    WALT!!!!! Dude, I am honored any time you read one of my books. Not even kidding one little smidge.

    Have a cookie.

  30. thanks so much for the great reminder to watch our 'hang out buddies'! Same thing I remind my teenagers all the time! To focus on the goal/vision and keep it in our sight...I love Helen Keller!

    Please enter me, lornafaith(at)gmail(dot)com for the first 5 page critique.


  31. Ruth - my mom loves the name too, which is probably why she picked it for me heheh! I bet your goddaughter is adorable, it comes naturally to us Meghans/Megans! ;-)

    And I actually have an aunt named Ruth. She's in FL though so I don't see her often (I'm in NY)

  32. Great post Ruthy! I'm going to check out Jim Rohn's website.
    Please enter me for the first five pages critique.

  33. Oh, that was such a gret post! I'd never heard of Rohn but I stole that quote and put in my facebook status. It really struck a chord! I have a bumper sitcker on my van that say, 'Obstinate, headstrong girl!' from Pride and Prejudice. You know, the scene where Lady Catherine is yelling at Elizabeth to 'stay in her place'?? Um-hmmmm. But God wants us to be everything He ahs meant us to be, even if we have to rock the boat a little and be MORE than others think we should try to be. Here's to us 'headstrong girls'!