There will always be negative people. Always. You know the ones. Those who assume the worst and dwell on the past, lamenting the minor setbacks and missing the big, bright, beautifully optimistic picture. Those who finds faults in everyone and everything. Big, small, it doesn’t matter. They’ll find pimples on the neighbor’s four-year old, a misaligned tooth in the prom queen’s mouth, or a spot of poor CGI in the summer’s big blockbuster movie. It’s like it’s their sole purpose to identify apparent defects and share them with the world. My guess is, doing so makes them feel better, because they’re sad inside from focusing their mental energies on the negative.
Chances are, you have a negative person in your immediate life. Heck, it may even be you. Negativity is unavoidable, but, fortunately, it’s equally combatable. There’s weight behind the positive-thought mindset that so many self-help speakers preach. While my intentions aren’t to sound like a philosophifarmer, I will lay this nugget out there in the hope you pay it some thought.
In James Allen’s book, As A Man Thinketh, he said:
A man’s (or woman’s) mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind. (Allen 9)
Which is to say, don’t plant negative seeds (thoughts). Instead, plant happy seeds and allow them to grow into happy flowers. In your writing life, you’ll come across negative people as well, but it’ll seem more personal. It will be especially important to plant happy seeds when you’re faced with their negativity.
For instance, you may get a poor review. A negative seed would be you believing their review is a personal attack. Or, it’d be you discarding what they say simply because you don’t like it. A positive seed would be you weighing what the reviewer said to see if there’s something you could have done better. A positive seed would be you telling yourself, it’s okay, I’ll learn from the situation and be better because of it next time. Even if you ultimately don’t agree with the reviewer, you’re developing a writing confidence of your own to know when to listen and when to cast aside certain critiques for the right reasons.
Once, while doing some freelance writing, a woman in the children’s publishing industry wanted to work with me. She contacted me a few random times during her trip to Hong Kong to keep me in the loop and not lose my interest while she was on a business trip. Then, once somewhere she could focus and had proper reception, she had her team evaluate the material on my website. After weeks of being “led on”, she decided she wasn’t interested in me after all.
Her reason was generic. My “materials weren’t what she was looking for”, so I was left to fill in the blanks and wonder if my website or books or articles came off as amateur? If maybe I wrote for an older range? If I wrote for too young a range? If I had spelling and grammatical errors that turned her off? Left wondering what about me was sooo wrong, what wasn’t good enough for her, I rotted away…
Only, that’s not true. The rotting away part. Literally or figuratively. You see, I learned a long time ago how to shrug things off, so as soon as I felt the negativity sapping me of my creative energy, I vented my frustration then shut it off like a light witch. The way I see it is like this: I’m doing my best, and I’m learning every single day and that’s not an exaggeration. I read books, both fiction and non-fiction, and listen to podcast on the writing craft. I take illustration courses and have enrolled to pursue my graduate’s degree in Creative Writing. I’ll only get better because of it, not worse. I know the material I create may not be for every child, but it’ll find an audience, or more specifically, those children who it is for. Rejection comes fast and heavy in this writing life, shrug it off and keep going.
You may be thinking, Curry, how can you be pointing out negative people when you’re writing a book about the dark side of publishing for children? Easy. I don’t consider the information I’m sharing with you as negative. I consider it informational. I believe in believing in and hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, and me sharing some of the bad things to keep an eye out for, is just to prepare you. Not to neg you out and sap you of your energy. There’re other people out there for that. Keep them around at your own discretion, but I’m surrounding myself with positive thinkers.