Sunday, April 10, 2016

Weekend Wildcard: Busting Bad Vibes

Author Heidi Rice talks about Eliminating the Negative and Accentuating the Positive in a Writer's Life

My family call me the Voice of Doom... My best writing mate calls me Eeyore.. There is a reason for this... I can at times enjoy a good wallow. The operative word there is 'enjoy' because, well I'm British folks, there's a reason we've made sarcasm and self-deprecation a work of art. But occasionally this rush to the dark side can be self-destructive for me and my writing...

Unless I can turn a negative into a positive... Here's a few of the Bad Vibes I like to obsess over the most and how I have strived to turn them around (this is a work in progress btw).

The Atrocious Review 

The Negative: We've all had them, that review that says your book is a piece of trash, your hero is morally reprehensible (ie: a rapist), your heroine is a whiny basketcase, your plot is full of holes big enough to drive a jumbo jet through and your writing so bad that they really did not know why anyone was dumb enough to agree to publish you.... The review is so scathing and so bad, it's negated all those 5-star reviews you got for the same book, you get a clutching sensation in your stomach and your face goes all red with embarrassment and you might even start to wonder why anyone did bother to publish you and why you became a writer, and if you're just a really rubbish person too... (okay, that's a bit over the top, but hey, Voice of Doom here)...
The Positive: Any review is better than no reviews... No really, I'm not kidding. It is a far far better thing to get a one-star review than no reviews at all. It means people are reading your book. It would be nice if they liked it, obviously, but even if they didn't they took the time to read it and review it and talk about it to other readers... Congratulations you are now officially an author people are talking about. That is a good thing. Plus it's not personal, they don't actually know you, they just read your book and had an opinion about it. And hey, you can just disagree with them (although do not do this anywhere on social media because it will make you look like a twat). You know your book was great, they just didn't get it. And to confirm that go read all the 5-star reviews to make yourself feel better. Or if there aren't any (yet), find your favourite book on Goodreads and go check out the reviews, guaranteed they'll be at least one really crappy review... See that person didn't get the best book ever written!! Unless it's Outlander, in which case you're screwed, there are no bad reviews, I checked.

The Award You Didn't Win (or Even Get Nominated For):

The Negative: This is a tricky one, because it forces me to admit that in a tiny part of my soul that I don't really want to acknowledge I am NOT a good person. But here's the thing, when awards/nominations are announced - be they RITAs, New York Times Best Seller Lists, Golden Globes, Oscars - I have to hold up my hand and admit I can have a moment when I feel deflated because it wasn't me! Leo DiCaprio swan through a frozen river, got hypothermia and nearly lost his wanger to frostbite (not to mention those hundred previous nominations), but hey I could totally have won that Oscar too, if they'd just given me that part and some acting lessons (well, maybe not the wanger bit...). Of course it's envy (and in the Leo case also somewhat delusional), a human emotion that's sometimes hard to suppress, because this is something you want too and you haven't got it and they have... Does that mean your books are crap now and theirs are better... How can that be true? See what happens, you can get into a downward spiral of self-pity and envy and.. Well, it can get ugly.
The Positive: You didn't win, but you really want to win, that's a good thing, called ambition. Maybe it's unrealistic ambition sometimes (especially if you've never actually had a professional acting role in your life) but wanting to achieve is not a bad thing. Unless you get all hung up on other people's success and stop focussing on your own success and your own goals. Forget about that fabulous author who's getting all the praise/making tons more money/whatever, because their success isn't going to stop you succeeding. Only you can do that, by being a small-minded jealous self-destructive little troll! So kick that troll right in the arse and celebrate that fabulous author's success with them (especially if it happens to be me) while dreaming about the day when they just might be congratulating you! So let's just enjoy Leo's amazing speech in that spirit!


The I'm-The-Slowest-Author-On-The-Planet Myth

The Negative: This is a total social media run phenomenon, not something I'm sure most writers of yesteryear had to contend with as much as we do today.. But if like me you've got a lot of writer friends on Facebook and Twitter, it sometimes seems that EVERYONE is writing books faster than you are. This is partly because every time you turn around, someone is announcing on Twitter or Facebook they've just finished another book.. This is particularly gut-wrenching when you just happen to be at that stage in your current WIP when you are absolutely convinced this book is a total pile of crap and is NEVER going to get finished... This happens to me several times a book, so there's a good chance that those two phenomenon are going to collide on a regular basis, especially as I spend far too much time on social media, stressing about my rubbish productivity (instead of writing and making my productivity better). And every time it happens it makes me feel slow and useless and not at all like Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone – who could dash off a best-selling novel without editing it while saving her sister from Colombian kidnappers and getting seduced by Michael Douglas in a fedora – which was the main reason I became a romance novelist in the first place (just kidding, mostly!).
The Positive: When you do finish that pesky book that would never end, you can crow about it too... And know that somewhere, someone else is stressing about their productivity but today that someone is not you. And that marvelous feeling when you finish a book and you're pleased with it is what all the agony is for, it's that feeling that makes it all worthwhile (so why wouldn't other people crow about it, good on them, they've earned it, suddenly you get why they're crowing)... And then look at your own productivity and realise that while you might not be as fast as some, you are not the slowest... Actually you're doing okay, even if you've only finished one book! You did it! You got that great feeling and you'll dive back into the mire to get that feeling again... It's sort of like crack actually, but a lot more addictive (not that I've ever been a crack addict, but you get my drift).  And ultimately it's not about the number of books you write, but how good you feel when you finish them. And you can only get that good feeling if you love your book, and you can only love your book if you give it the time it needs... That said, try not to take four years to finish your first manuscript like I did, or you're going to get one heck of a shock when you do get published.

So there you have it, three of my worse Bad Vibes... Do you have any? What are they? And how do you overcome them...?

Heidi Rice is currently writing her 24th book and she's just finaled in the RITAs for the third time. Up Yours, Eeyore! For more info on her and her writing check out her website.

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