Monday, April 18, 2011

"O" is for Optimism

Okay, first of all, I'm not really an optimist.  But I'm not a pessimist, either.  On the scale of "glass is half full" to "glass is half empty," I'm more likely to just notice there's liquid in there at all.  Whether it's rat poison or a delicious margarita will remain to be seen.  I don't know...maybe I analyze stuff too much.
Great example of an optimist and pessimist.

For me, it depends on the situation.  Of course I'd rather make the best of things.  My husband and I have a cat who is absolutely adorable and loves to cuddle, especially when you're wearing something soft and fuzzy.  I have a bathrobe that, when I wear it, she always begs to curl up on my lap.  The problem is that when she relaxes, she tends to relax everything, and she'll poop just a little, which, of course, I don't notice until she's gotten her snuggle time in.  It goes without saying that this robe gets washed a lot.  But, I look on the bright side - she's soft and lovey, and every time she climbs up onto my lap, I hope that this will be the time I will not get pooped on.  

However, if everything seems to be going to hell in a handbasket in my life at the moment, I'll obviously be a bit more negative.  I think most people are this way: not entirely optimistic or pessimistic, but simply leaning one way or the other.

It doesn't mean either kind of person is easy to deal with, though.  

Just like eternally optimistic Linda who pukes rainbows in my "M" is for Mixed Metaphor post a few days ago, there are people who do the opposite.  We all know those people who always put a negative spin on everything.  No matter what's happening, everything is gloom and doom.  Woe is me and all that shit.  I'm absolutely sure all of us have at least one relative or friend like this.  You know the one.  The one who, if you're driving with them somewhere, you want to eject at a high speed from your car out in the middle of nowhere just so you don't have to listen to them bitch and moan anymore.  But, of course, you can't do that.  No, not because it's probably illegal, but because you know that person will just come back and whine about you abandoning them out there, and you'll hear about nothing else from them for the rest of your life.  Negative people hold grudges like nobody's business.  Fact.  

It pays to understand both types, though, because if you write, you'll undoubtedly encounter a character who thinks one way or the other.  And it might very well be the way you don't think.  It can be hard to see the other side of the coin, but it's worth it to try.  

"Gonna get me a prom queen!"
I suppose as a writer, I have to try to stay positive.  Why?  I'm doing something I absolutely love, right?    Because there is so much negativity built into the business.  We automatically know and expect to be rejected when we query our work to agents or publishers.  Hell, even Harry Potter was rejected something like twelve times.  Definitely double digits.  It's like you're the nerdy guy, and you're trying to get the popular girl to go to prom with you.  Can it happen?  Sure.  But you might have to try very hard at it, and you should expect to get shot down.  

Even though it's not, criticism from your critique partner (or anyone, really) can get you down.  Nobody likes to be told that something is unclear, or isn't working, particularly something you've slaved over for months and now have to go back and fix.  No matter how nice Shelley is about telling me something is off, it can sting a little.  But that's normal; I get over it, realize she's right, and get back to work.  The key is to use it as a learning experience and better yourself.  I know my writing isn't perfect, and I'd be incredibly disappointed if I had a critique partner who thought the sun shines out my ass.  You just need to develop a thicker skin, brush it off, and continue on your way.  I imagine my work won't always get glowing reviews from other people, either.  Same principle.  

While writing involves some negativity, there are many positive aspects to it as well.  Other writers and bloggers are incredibly supportive of each other.  I can't even imagine how many times I've seen writers congratulating each other on Twitter for putting out another book, pimping out each other's work via their blogs, or sending new readers your way to help out (thank you, Alex!).  The supportive atmosphere and welcoming people outweigh the negative, for me, at least.  

That's about it for today.  If you're curious, as of right now, no, my "P" post won't be on pessimism.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to do a load of laundry.  It's cool here today, and I have a feeling I'll need to wear that fuzzy robe tonight, which, of course, means I'll be doing laundry tomorrow, too.  But it's worth it.

xoxo Sarah


  1. I tend to be both. Like you said, it depends on the day and what else is going on. But I figure I have to have some optimism in me somewhere because I haven't given up yet...

  2. You're right. It can be hard to stay optimistic in the face of criticism. This is why when I receive comments I do NOT go right to the critiqued work to fix it, but instead run to read a book or work on my rough draft until the pain subsides. This will be a part of my life for the rest of my life and I will have to deal.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. @M.J.: That's definitely the important thing...don't give up! :-)

    @Jeffrey: That's a great strategy. I try to do that as well, taking a little time to deal with it. Thank you for the follow as well! I'll check out your blog as soon as I can.

  4. Through my life, I've gone from one extreme to the other, and I think I've settled somewhere in the middle, depending on what's going on in my life, the situation, etc. I do try to be positive as much as I can though, and since I've been writing more seriously, I'm trying to take on a more optimistic view - yes, people will like my writing, yes I'll get published, yes, people will actually read my books, sure there will be people who don't like my writing, but there will be more people who do. It feels weird to say stuff like that, but who knows then that whole laws of attraction thing will kick in, right? ;-)

  5. I'm neither. I'm a realist. Sometimes a cynical realist. heh
    I'm kind of down on optimism, at the moment, though, but not because of optimism itself. I've been reading this book, Bright-Sided, which will give you a whole new way of looking at having a positive attitude.

  6. @Marie: I'm with you...I try to be optimistic about how I'm seeing my writing. YES, I will get published. :-)

    @Andrew: Thank you for the book rec! That looks really interesting. I'll have to check it out.