Monday, March 12, 2007

The Secret

A few weeks ago I finally used up a gift certificate I'd been given to a swanky downtown spa. I got a sitter, a fancy coffee and settled in for a manicure, pedicure and a facial. About ten minutes into my relaxing day all about me -- in fact just after I had said the words "how are you?" to the woman providing me with all this relaxation and I'm Not A Waitress toenails - she opened her mouth and spent the next three and a half hours burying me in her horrible life story. Horrible. Little girl dying. Husband leaving. Boyfriend lying. No money. etc.... great -- very relaxing. And then at the end she asks me if I've read The Secret. I haven't -- but I've seen it's cover on Amazon and I thought it looked like a fantastic historical romance and was waiting for Sinead to read it and tell me if I should. So, this lovely woman who has spent three hours talking non-stop about terrible things to me, a stranger, tells me that this book is about putting positive things out in the universe so positive things will come back to her.

She told me in a very honest way that that's what she was doing. She was putting positive energy out there to get positive things in return. I stared at her dumbfounded and told her I had to leave before she finished the facial. I did, however, give her a good tip - but I will NEVER go back.

Anyway - what does this have to do with writing? I think as a profession writing breeds in writers a black hole of negativity. The rejection, the wait time, the constant publication of books you don't think are as good as yours, the dealing with people and personalities that are constantly rude, combative or over-sensitive. This is a tough job and it can wear on us and make the kindest of us turn into !$%holes. And lately, I've been a big one. I've felt miserly and mean-spirited and closeminded - which let me tell you is no state of mind for writing romance novels or novels of any kind. As corny as this is going to sound and I can't beleive I'm writing it but writing is really at it's foundation about sharing. Points of view, entertainment, thoughts on the world, a good laugh, a voracious thrill -- you get the point. And trying to get all that done from a dark little corner of self-obsession and disappointment does not work.

However, I didn't really realize I was in that place until this weekend. Toronto Romance Writers had it's annual critique group meeting -- writers bring in five pages of thier work to be critiqued by a published member of the group and a selection of their peers. I don't need to tell you that this can be awful -- the peers can be cruel, the writer can be combative or obtuse or overly sensitive and I can say the wrong thing and watch the writer crumple a little bit. It's always a crap shoot -- but not this year. NEVER have I had such a group of kind professionals. And watching these people be kind and generous to each other reminded me that I want to be kind and generous, too. In general. In my career.

So last night I met a college student writing a paper on romance novels for a coffee. I was a journalism student once too - and I remember how grateful I was when someone would actually talk to me. And she was grateful and I tried a Vanilla Creme at Starbucks -- win win.

So, this long point to this rambling post is -- I'm shaking it off. The crappy attitude. The overly-critical outlook. And I'm working towards kind and generous. I feel better already.

But really? That picture of Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent -- yikes!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Molly,

I was in your group and was thrilled beyond belief at how positive the experience was. I came home exhausted but at the same time, filled with a wonderful creative energy.

You took the lead with supportive feedback and managed to give pointers on how to IMPROVE (capping because I can't figure out bold) the writing and we all followed.

I think we all had an "aha" moment with our writing and that feels really really good. Improving our writing with positive feedback is a gift.


Sinead M said...

Great post, Molly. you haven't seemed mean spirited to me, just funny. It is hard to keep your spirits up when we constantly face rejection, being around other like minded, funny people is how we do it.

And Hugh Laurie, pic or not, is still sexy to me.. awful, awful pic though..

Maureen McGowan said...

Molly you are one of the most positive, generous people I know.

I like what you said about writing being about sharing... it really is. I think that's another interesting way to consider the "what kind of writer" question... "what do I want to share".

We'll have to rent the "Prince Regent" Blackadder DVD's some time and watch them. I think it was the 2nd or 3rd series. His character was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. (But so not sexy.) The expression in that photo pretty much sums up how he portrayed the character. Whole new look on Regency England. LOL.

Abby said...

I find I always get more negative the more I'm focusing on the business side of writing instead of the writing itself.

It's easy to get wound up by all the negativity about the industry - the low pay, the rejection, yadda yadda yadda. Then I go back to writing and remember that writing is actually really fun when you're not thinking about that stuff.

Of course, easy for me to say, since my writing doesn't pay my bills...

Christine said...

Molly you are a wonderfully generous person. It's so easy to slip into that negative place, even when you feel you should have anything to complain about. It's important to keep the positive things in mind.

That picture was always how I pictured Hugh laurie, or as the dad from Stuart Little. But I finally caught an episode of House last night and can certainly see the appeal now. :)

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