Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How to Deal with Rejection

Several bloggers and other people have been buzzing about the fact that Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, a literary agent in California, was attacked by a writer whose query she'd rejected. He reached through her car window and tried to push her into her steering wheel. But one of her dogs bit him, and the police later caught the guy. (Reason #786 why dogs rule: Dogs have your back.)

I felt sorry for that agent, and I couldn't help thinking how foolish and senseless it was of that "writer" to attack her like that. It was a violent crime. Also, what agent in his or her right mind is going to want to work with someone like that in the future?

Every writer gets rejected. I think it's part of being a writer. You learn from all those rejection letters and unanswered submissions. You learn what works in your writing and what doesn't. It shows you what sells and what doesn't. Rejection is not an excuse to hurt anyone.

Here are other possible ways to deal with rejection:

1. Try writing a book about a werewolf and a vampire who fall in love, except they can't be together because one of them is also in love with a teenage wizard whose name rhymes with "Barry" and the other one makes his lovers sign S&M contracts.

2. Try hypnotizing people through Twitter by sending out Tweets like, "You are getting very sleepy. When you open your eyes, you will go out and buy my book. And you will LOVE my book."

3. Bide your time until you do become a successful, published author by practicing your Pulitzer Prize acceptance speech to the cashier in the supermarket checkout line, the teller at the bank, and your dry cleaner. All the people standing in line behind you will probably applaud...just so you'll stop talking. (Or maybe they'll start throwing things.)

4. Work out your aggression on a punching bag, and tape a picture of the cover of a book that you really hate to the front of it.

5. Send out a manuscript to another agent, and then pick the petals off of a flower while saying, "He (or she) loves my manuscript, he loves it not."

6. Listen to inspirational music while you're writing, like the theme song to Rocky, Queen's "We Are the Champions", or Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time". (What? Am I the only one who finds her music inspirational?)

7. Imitate Scarlett O'Hara by eating turnips in the middle of a field and declaring, "As God is my witness, they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be unpublished again."

8. Name all of your characters after the literary agents that you're sending your work to.

9. Resist the urge to look at books by celebrity "authors" and wail, "Why? WHY?" before running out and buying a bunch of ice cream.

10. Pick up a pen or turn on your computer and keep writing.

What about you? As a writer, how do you handle rejection?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To Date or Not to Date

1. If I never date again, I won't have to shave my legs anymore. Then I can take the money that I save on razors and spend them on sweaters and blouses that button all the way up to my chin.

2. If I start dating again, I won't watch happy couples walk off into the sunset at the end of romantic movies and think, "Yeah. Like that would ever happen to me."

3. If I never date again, I won't have to look at any online profiles that feature pictures of shirtless guys posing in front of their bathroom mirrors. You know how they say, "Less is more?" I'd say, "More (clothes) is better."

4. If I start dating again, I might find someone who makes me happy.

5. If I never date again, I won't have to wring my hands over the dozens of profiles of guys in their thirties and forties (and yes, not all of them are like this. But a LOT of them are) who specify that they only want to date women between the ages of 18-25, which makes me feel like I'm over the hill at age 31.

6. If I start dating again, then I might actually meet the right guy this time. Then my dream of getting married and having children someday might actually come true.

7. If I never date again, I won't wait by the phone for guys who pretend to be interested because they like the attention about as much as Kim Kardashian likes the spotlight (and famous boyfriends).

8. If I start dating again, I won't have to tell nosy people, "No, I really don't know why I'm still single."

9. If I never date again, I can spend more time on the other things that make me happy, like writing, teaching, dancing, and exploring interesting neighborhoods in the city.

10. If I start dating again, I might meet a guy who turns out to be worth all the bad dates, the creepy jerks who couldn't understand why I didn't want to date them, and all the time I wasted on the nice guys (who turned out to be not so nice after all). I might meet someone who's different from all the others and makes me think that maybe I could have both work AND love.

I recently read a post on online dating by fellow blogger Tom, who writes the blog My World in Crisis. It made me think about whether I should start dating again. It's been about a year since the last time I tried online dating. I've thought about joining another site, or perhaps one of the sites that I already tried. But right now I really need to focus on making more progress on my dissertation. My graduate funding runs out at the end of this school year, but I won't finish my dissertation until the end of next year. That means that I will be unemployed next year, unless I can find some other way to support myself (teaching, a grant, a small loan, etc.).

Even though I still want to meet someone and fall in love (FINALLY), at the same time I also want to finish my dissertation, complete my Ph.D., and find a good full-time job as a teacher. My work has always been very important to me, and I don't think that I should have to apologize for that (in spite of several people I know who have tried to make me feel like being a workaholic means that something is wrong with me).

That's why I've decided to put off online dating until January at the earliest. I will write more posts on dating in the future, but for now, I need to focus on work and school. It's one thing if I never become a "Mrs.", but I still want to become a "Dr.".

(And I have to admit, I'm kind of relieved about not going back to online dating, at least for now. If you've read any of my earlier posts on dating, you know why.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Life Without Writing

I haven't been blogging or writing fiction lately for several reasons. I've always enjoyed writing in coffeehouses and have developed several good scenes and interesting characters there. But lately, the Wi-Fi freeloaders who never buy anything and hog tables for hours have really bothered me, though I know that I should just ignore them. I guess they bother me because they can apparently afford iPads and iPhones but are too cheap to spend a few bucks on a cup of coffee. Because of them, paying customers like me (and as a broke grad student working two jobs, I work hard to afford that cup of coffee) often don't get a place to sit (and write).

So I tried writing at home. But as many of you know, several of my neighbors are pretty loud. The drunk parties, loud music, and Family Guy reruns at top volume grate on my nerves, and one of my neighbors has apparently taken up singing. That wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that she sounds like Miley Cyrus after she's smoked two packs of cigarettes. 

In spite of all that, I've usually managed to get writing done on a regular basis. But lately I've been feeling stressed out and overwhelmed because of work and school, so those inconsiderate jerks didn't make me feel any better. I think that all that is why I've been fighting writer's block lately. I sit down to write and I don't know what to say. I try to write anyway and nothing rings true. I read over what I wrote and I start worrying that maybe Snooki could have written something better.

It got to the point that I felt so discouraged that I considered giving up writing. After all, what if I wrote all these stories and never got published? Or what if the stories did get published and nobody liked them? Was it even worth it? As stressed out and discouraged as I felt, I knew what the answer was.

Writing is worth it. Even if I never get published and even if I did get published but people wrote terrible reviews about me on, the point is that writing still means something to me, and it's not something that I can live without. It made me think about what my life would be like without writing.

If I stopped writing...

1. I might spend my time on something that I never enjoyed and was never good at, like sports, just so I'd have something to do. And then I'd spend the rest of my life running away from the ball.

2. I might spend more time watching reality TV, and then I might start thinking that it really is reality. For example, I might start thinking, "Wow. I hope that if I ever have a daughter, she'll be just like Honey Boo Boo," or "Maybe I should be more like that dance teacher on Dance Moms who yells all the time," or "Why work when I can get paid to wear tight clothes and pick fights with pretty people?"

3. I'd never be able to deal with the fact that in real life, the bad guys sometimes win. They're the ones who get away with crimes that should have put them in jail, or they betray the people who love them and show no remorse for it. But writing fiction gives me a good outlet to deal with people like that, because I can write stories that end the way I think they should have ended, and the bad guys (or girls) lose.

4. I'd have to let go of all the characters I created who have become real to me and who often surprise me with what they say and what they do.

5. I might lose interest in reading, and then I wouldn't get to travel to different places, meet new people, and see them through the eyes of writers that I admire.

6. I might become less observant of the world around me, and then I'd end up missing out on so much of life and the world.

7. I wouldn't have that hope that my dream actually can come true, and that all this work that I've been doing for years really could lead to something good.

8. I wouldn't experience that sense of satisfaction and joy I feel after writing several pages in one session.

So I have to get back to writing more regularly, even if I don't always feel like doing it. I know that I would regret it forever if I were to give up writing altogether.

What about you? What are the reasons that you can't live without writing?