Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for...

Oooooooooooooh my goodness, what do I want to write about today? "O" is one of those tricky letters.

O is also for...


I feel like you have to be a bit of an optimist to be a writer. You lay out so much of yourself in your writing and then you want other people to enjoy it, which is a bit like wanting people to like you and your word babies.

Every time you send out a query letter, contest entry or short story, there must be at least a part of you that feels optimistic about it, or you'd never send it, right? The optimist in you has visions of publication, rave reviews, maybe even riches, as well as a large readership.

The optimist in you may look with hope upon the more prolific writers who have found that automatic acceptance that comes with having about a bazillion books in print that always end up on the best sellers' list. Who doesn't want to be there? That is the very epitome of being liked and accepted, and therefore a successful published author.

Right now, the optimist in me is working overtime as I prepare my novel and myself for (hopefully) publication some time in the near future. I'm optimistic that I will do well in the Colorado Gold. I'm optimistic that I will find an agent and, shortly thereafter, a publisher. I'm one of those people who looks too far ahead, who gets ahead of herself and makes plans for the things she sees eventually happening. I can only hope that being optimistic pays off in the end, rather than turning me into a bitter pessimist.

Do I still have all sorts of doubts assaulting me from every direction? Of course. I just try to shove them away, pound them to a pulp in a true Pollyanna fashion, distance myself from them. I can acknowledge they're there, but I don't want to lend them power by paying attention to them.

Every little once in awhile, though, the pessimist in me rears her ugly head and does mighty battle with the optimist. Today was one of those days, as I sat polishing my first 20 pages and synopsis for the Colorado Gold. I had to tell myself that the worst that could happen would be not placing at all, which is entirely possible. If so, so what? What harm does it do me? Well, aside from the harm to my self esteem, it doesn't impact me at all, nor does it mean I don't stand a chance. Part of me is freaked out that I made my intention to enter public, which means I have to make the results public, which means other people will know if I've failed. But then I consider how supportive everyone is, and surely it will be only a passing pain before I pick myself up and move on.

Over at the Chiseled in Rock blog, they had an article about taking a certain amount of time to grieve when a rejection came in, then immediately sending a new query out. I intend to set myself a goal like that when I officially begin querying (in May, hopefully), thus insuring I always have a backup and can pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again. The pessimist has to be able to come out and get a little fresh air sometimes, but then she can go back to her cave and let me get on with my life.

Are you an optimist? Do you envision your success in whatever you do? What ways have you found of beating the pessimist within you down?


  1. Optimism, that i like! Especially this week with all the things going on in my life. Thank you for reminding me to be optimistic!

  2. You're a wonderful writer and have every reason to be optimistic! I wish you every success! Julie

  3. I try not to be either, they both end up being distracting. I ahve no idea how things will turn out so I just concentrate on the thing I'm doing for its own sake. I still feel disappointed or elated when things turn out the way they turn out, but I used to waste a lot of time fretting/day dreaming about things out of my control.

    Moody Writing

  4. An agent told me once that every "no" gets you closer to that "yes." Optimism and perseverance are the things that will sustain you, along with plenty of chocolate. :-)

    So nice to meet you, Shannon! Best of luck to you in your quest.

  5. I must say, I am more pessimist than optimist. Most of this stems from being let down so many times--in all arenas of life, mind--that I've simple trained myself to expect the worst, so when it comes... it's not so bad, right? Nah, it still hurts. Of course it does! Here lately, however, I find my biggest inspiration is in--oh, and this is going to sound so awful, just awful--poorly written books.

    Yeah, I know. But why not? This is the thing: If I read a bad book, poorly written, weak dialogue, or whatever particular diagnosis makes it, well... suck... I think to myself, "You can do better than this. You can. Because this... this got published. Someone liked this book enough to publish it. And yet..."

    Well, you can fill in the blanks. Maybe it's snobby of me, I don't know. But it makes me feel better, just like reading an awesome book makes me strive, strive, strive to be a better writer. To create strong dialogue, interesting plot-lines, and colorful, interesting exposition.

    Because this is the thing: You want to put your best work out there, right? You don't want someone reading your book and thinking, "Omigosh, really?" And I think we, as writers, owe it to ourselves and every book we've ever put down to present the best product we possibly can to that agent or editor.

    Anyways. I think I kind of got off subject. OPTIMISM for all! I shall definitely strive to implement this more into my own struggle for publication. :)

  6. I see we're on the same page for A-Z. I posted on optimistic this morning.

  7. I am a complete optimist. I believe in setting a goal, working towards it, and accepting that every encounter along the way, good or bad, is just a part of that journey. I think this is the only way I could live, believing that so long as I keep working and make my dreams happen, then they'll come true.

  8. Shannon, I was you a year ago. I entered the Colorado Gold contest hoping just to place or get some helpful feedback and I ended up winning the fantasy category. Could not believe it. No matter the outcome, the feedback really is the important part of the contest. Stay optimistic. It's all about improving the manuscript and finding a home for it. And Good Luck!

  9. You either have optimism, or you don't. And you do! It may waiver now and then, but it will forever remain part of who you are. Great post, and keep submitting. Never give up!

  10. I'm both. It depends on the day, I suppose. The important thing is that I keep on keeping on. For better or worse...

    Good luck with everything!

  11. I think optimism is very important for writers. Something has to convince you to keep going in the face of rejection!


  12. I like to think of myself as an optopessimist - that way I'm never disappointed ...
    Good luck and best wishes

  13. I don't really believe in optimism, as such. I believe more in perseverance. I think the best example for any author is actually someone like Eddison. How many filaments did he try for the light bulb before he found one that worked? Something like 500? Little bit of inspiration, your idea, and a lot of perspiration.

    And then there's what Jim Butcher says about being published... basically, just last longer than all the people that give up on it.

  14. Great post, and best of luck with your submission! I can relate to that pessimistic voice sneaking in, it's hard to put yourself out there. I think you have a great plan for when you start sending out the query letters. Good luck!

  15. Optimism is key! (=
    I am an optimist. Not a blind one--but a concious one. I'm such a Sagitarius. (=

  16. I agree with you that optimism is a powerful fuel to keep the writer in you going!

    Great post.

  17. Murugi, I hope things turn around and become more positive for you.

    Julie, thank you so much!

    Mood, valid point. I've tried to quash it in the past for various things and I just can't do it. At the least, though, I'm adaptive when things don't turn out quite right, so hopefully that gets me through.

    Liz, I like everything you just said. I will definitely keep that in mind when the "no's" start rolling in.

    Alyssia, I can see that, and I've been encouraged by similar thoughts at times. But, like you, I want to put something out there that people don't use as that example, LOL.

    Debra, I will have to check that out. It's a good thing to talk about, right?

    Paul, very true and well said.

    L.G., awesome and belated congratulations! Oddly, I look forward to the feedback as much as any of the rest of it, because that part will help me, better the novel.

  18. Anne, quite true, and thank you!

    M.J., also very true. Persevere.

    Carla, exactly. You'd give up if there wasn't some sense of optimism, surely.

    Karla, opto-pessimist, for sure. I imagine there also has to be a touch of the pessimist in all of us, except those people who go on American Idol and say the judges are wrong because they're the best one out there. They are pure optimist.

    Andrew, I hadn't heard Butcher's take on writing, but it's also a good point. Outlive, outlast, out-whatever? And I agree that perseverance is key.

    Julie, thank you!

    Jo, great point. I would say I'm also a conscious optimist. Life pretty much insures blind optimism can't last for long, but you can be a realist and an optimist all in one.

    Septembermom, thank you!