This past weekend I got an e-mail from my editor about a prospective novel I had sent. The note had many nice compliments, but raised the question as to whether the material was more appropriate for a young adult book rather than a mid-grade. (I write children’s fiction and these are age-related categories.) She told me I would be getting more information about the editorial group’s thoughts but that she wanted to give me a heads up.
What part of the e-mail do you think I focused on?
No, not the part that described the book as very readable. Not the part that felt it was psychologically accurate. No, my focus was on the “criticism” that suggested it might be more appropriate for a different age group. And I say “criticism” because it was really more an observation or an opinion than anything else. However, I e-mailed my writer’s group with my sum total interpretation of her words--she was turning down the book, I was a failure as a writer, life was crap.
My writing group had the sense to point out to me that the e-mail had said nothing like that. It had basically been a heads up that an editorial letter would be coming and that she liked many things about the book. They also pointed out that my editor had read the book and responded to me rather quickly, which doesn’t always happen in the writing world.
Have you ever done that? Viewed comments as larger than they were? One opinion, one comment and you’re a failure? Do you view things as negative instead of looking at the positive or even the realistic?
How do we prosper and achieve? For writing? For recovery? For really anything in life? One way is—don’t over-read comments.
And then—don’t look for the negative. Focus on the positive.
Think back about today or the last few days. Did you over-generalize a comment? Make it into a criticism? Give it more power than it deserved? Write about that. What thoughts do you have? Does it trigger a memory that might be adding fuel to your self-negativity? Is there a way that you can turn the negative thoughts around? Find a positive? Or put the whole incident into a more realistic perspective?
And can you look back on the day and capture one pleasant thought or image to hold onto. Sometimes when I journal, I try to capture 5 images from the day. Looking back at images I recorded when my kids were young, I captured positive moments. I recorded images of them playing with a sprinkler outside or playing with bubbles in the bath. The images at the end of the day that made me smile even if there had been moments of tears and tantrums throughout the day. I’m sure there had been. But I didn’t want to save and savor those images. So I wrote about the hugs and laugher. I can still smile now remembering them. What do you hang onto? Try to find a positive from the day. Or turn an annoyance into something fun. While I’ve been writing this blog, my dog has been stealing rags and paper towels. Yes, it was annoying to keep getting up to get them back. But I had to smile, too. He was so proud and he came with his tail wagging, his eyes sparkling and smiling his doggie smile. He was almost saying, “Look what I have.” What does he have? Pure doggie nature that loves life. Know what? He works everyday to get me to love life too. So I try. How about you?
Go, take these hints and….
Martha Peaslee Levine, M.D.