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Don’t You Dare Rain on My Parade!

April 22, 2010

Yes, that’s an awesome umbrella.

But I’m not here to talk about awesome umbrellas (but, oh! Have you seen those cool ones that are clear and look like mushrooms? I want one.), I’m here to talk about something that people struggle with nearly incessantly. Like rain, where I live.

The downers. Those people who virtually drench you with their pessimistic comments. The Dementors of this non-magical writing world. Here’s a sketchy list of the templates these buggers seem to use. A majority of what you may hear is a variation of one of the following:

You’re wasting your time. You’ve gone through ten revisions and still haven’t finished. Go drink some Dr. Pepper and live a little.

Books?!? Reading stinks. (<– What you hear in Middle School.)

That publishing. I bet it’s a difficult business, just like everything else. How do you think you’ll break in and stick?

Or worse:

You write? For a living? Is that legit? Isn’t that a hobby? How the heck do you feed yourself?

I don’t blame you if you skimmed that bit. It’s quite gruesome, isn’t it?

Some of you might work more efficiently with Dementors attempting to suck the happiness out of you. The irritating persistance of said Evil People might simply encourage you in an odd, sick way. You want to prove them wrong. You want to be able to buy them an astonishingly expensive Christmas gift and not be scraping at the bottom of your savings, simply to prove them wrong. You did it. You’re in. You’re sticking. You’re a stinkin’ writer.

Of course, not all of those nagging remarks apply solely to publishing. The writing itself can be tenuous, and it’s likely that, along the way, you’ll run into the folks who repeatedly deliver the Dr. Pepper line.

As Middle School students, the few classmates that have heard about my writing endeavors stared at me in awe and called me crazy, but not to discourage me. When I brought my MS to school, some of those children thought it was cool, and others still thought I was just crazy. I haven’t heard too many of those biting, stinging, clawing “mean things.” If I did encounter pessimistic people, dry of hope, who tried to impress on me that I was wasting my time or helpless, I  think I’d bite back. Bite hard. I’d show them that, despite being soaked down to my underclothes, I could make it. I could actually do this writing thing.

I’d also try to remember the various sweetly encouraging things I’d heard. We all have a list of these running through our head as well, and they can keep us rolling as steadily as any insult. Here are some random templates of “happy things” (not all of which I’ve heard):

Wow. I could never do that. Cool.

This is great. I like your main character’s voice.

Holy cow. That’s one thick stack of paper! Did you kill a tree?

You worked on that every day? Impressive. You must have a lot of self-discipline.

I’d like to offer you representation. (Yeah, baby!)

Use them like towels and dry yourself off. Shake your hair like a dog and fling those despicable “mean things” onto the walls.

How do you keep those harsh comments from permeating your soft skin? Do you even try? Do you simply make the rain work for you?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2010 11:16 AM

    I’ve been out of high school for years, but the Dementors still exist. Thank you so much for this; it was a great little pep talk.

    Being somewhat thin-skinned myself, I don’t have any advice except to hold your head high and ignore the naysayers.

  2. Miranda permalink
    April 22, 2010 2:57 PM

    Cool post. If you love writing, then that’s all that matters. And if you love your writing and your story, someone else is bound to love it too. 🙂

    As for how to deal with a harsh comment, I think you should take what you can get from it, and then forget about it and get back to writing.

  3. Sarah Alice Kelley permalink
    April 22, 2010 6:50 AM

    I’ve heard the one about the hobby before. It’s usually followed by “well at least you’re doing something”. Thanks for this. We writers must encourage each other often. We’re all we’ve got.

    ~Sarah Alice Kelley

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