First, and most importantly, Happy Friday the 13th. I hope you celebrate by watching the 1980s movies of the same name. If horror isn't your thing, I hope you find a way to ward of evil spirits via your lucky rabbits foot, or whatever works for you.
Secondly, I wanted to let you guys know that I'm going on vacation on Monday, September 16. I'll be gone for a couple of weeks. I am going to try my darnedest to keep up with your emails and comments, but I hope you'll show me the tiniest bit of leniency. I won't be ignoring you on purpose, unless you're rude or mean, then it is totally on purpose.
And lastly, I was hoping you guys could allow me a moment's indulgence to talk about something that occurred to me today while I was brushing my teeth...Well, I'm gonna talk about it anyways. If you don't want to read on, I can recommend some wonderful TV shows to fill up your time... (Firefly, NCIS, Supernatural, Dr. Who, Avatar: The Last Airbender...)
Today's topic is negativity.
It seems like you can't avoid negativity. You could be Pollyanna and still be bombarded with people trying to drag you down on a daily basis. It's unavoidable. But my focus today is on the negativity that surrounds creative people.
I think anyone who has ever put their heart out there through a piece of art knows what I'm talking about. (And those of you who haven't can sympathize, I think.) You work hard on a project for weeks, maybe even months if you are a writer girl like me, you fret, you ponder, you tweak, you tweak again, and then, maybe, you do it all over again, simply because you didn't like how it turned out. It's a non-stop torture-fest of overwhelming passion, joy, and the sinking sensation that it could be better if you were better. And then comes the day where your big project is out there in the world. Like a baby moo-cow, it takes it's first steps into the brave new world before it.
And you are instantly met by opinions. Some of the opinions are good. They tell you that you are wonderful, special, and amazing. They praise your work and you feel a glow of pleasure in knowing that you are affecting someone in a positive way.
Then there are the other people, who have the opinion that you suck. If you write, they call you derivative, boring, or they say you have a poor/annoying writing style; if you do music, they call you a poor excuse for a musician, or the album was flat and uninspiring; if you act, they say that you were too fat, too short, too thin, too unremarkable, too bland, or too annoying. And on it goes.
And then you're left with doubt after all those months of slaving away. Are the people who like my stuff right in their praise, or are the other people right? Are the negative comments because the people making them are bland, angry at their own failed careers, or just plain mean? And, more importantly, are they right in that I suck? Should I listen to them?
For some creative people, I really think this can be the end-all. They meet this kind of negativity and give in. This isn't to say that I think all projects are created equal. There is bad art out in this world. No one can deny this. But I really think the truly passionate find a way to be better. They work hard, they improve, and they stay dedicated to their vision and desire. It's not entirely about success. It's about the joy. Imagine if Spielberg or Audrey Hepburn listened to every single one of their critics. Then we wouldn't have Indiana Jones (!), E.T., Schindler's List, Jaws, Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and their joint venture Always, to name a few. They had plenty of critics who panned them, but they stuck with it. They kept working. Not every project they worked on was perfection, but at least they kept doing what they loved.
I suppose that's my point, my advice, to anyone looking to get into any creative field, be it writing, music, modeling, drawing, painting, photography, sculpting, movie making, acting, etc. Keep trying. Know that not everyone is going to love you; some people, in fact, will hate you. They will never know you, never care about the real you, but they will hate you. If that's too daunting a reality to face, I suggest you go into something less personal than art. (Lobster fishers make a lot of money, I hear.)
You have to find the good in every situation, know when you need to improve and work harder (and not ignore all criticism just because it starts with critic), and know when to feel satisfied. If you worked your butt off to make a project as perfect as you can make it, and then someone comes along who flat-out says it sucks, know that you did your best, tried your hardest, and maintained your grace and dignity throughout. But don't give up. Don't you dare.
Personally, I tend to let the people who hate my writing get to me more than I should. I have to remind myself that they don't have to like it. It is entirely their prerogative to think I'm horrible and should never sell another book again. But what lifts me up is the truth that I love what I do. If I had a billion and one dollars, I would be doing this. If no one read my stories, I would still be happily typing away, creating new adventures for Clare, Daniel, Julie, Ellie, and Thane. I can't help myself. It's what I do. That passion matters. (If you don't have it, maybe it's time to move to something else. Maybe you're forcing a fit. It's okay to realize this.)
And the greatest thing to me is that, because of my passion, I have met some wonderful people who genuinely seem to like my stories. They email, tweet, Facebook, and comment on my blogs. It truly is a bit of a miracle to me that my passion could also turn into other people's passion. I may never be a New York Time's Bestseller, but I definitely appreciate every fan and every moment of this life.
So, if you are looking to get into e-publishing - maybe you dropped by to get some hints on what to do - or any creative field, then the biggest advice I can give is to not let negativity be your everything. Stay true to what you want - what your soul craves - work hard, keep your nose to the grindstone, and, if you stay the course, you will find a way. It may sound overly optimistic, but I genuinely think it's true. I guess I'm just a bucket way-full kind of gal.
I hope this helps. And I hope that you know that you aren't alone. We've all been there. Dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and keep moving. It's worth it.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you after my vacation. Maybe even with a few embarrassing pictures. : )