There is a disturbing trend I’ve been seeing among a certain segment of writers in the Twittersphere (they are, no doubt, elsewhere, but that’s where I hang out).
There is a rampant…negativity that seems to be infecting a lot of writers. It splashed on me this week after I tweeted my pleasure that I’d heard from my editor on an anthology submission I turned in this week that he couldn’t find a thing to improve, not even a typo, and he thought it was ready to go. Someone felt compelled to tweet back, “Maybe you need a new editor.”
This wasn’t some kind of caution of one writer looking out for another.
I’d have been okay with that because, as writers, particularly in a world where self publishing is growing and there are accompanying scams to go along with every step of the way, we should look out for each other. This had a definitive snotty tone that implied no one could possibly turn something in to an editor that didn’t need work and if I believed I had, I was a moron (and given this submission went through four rounds of intensive editing before I turned it in, I resented that implication).
There seem to always be some of these waiting cynics on the side line who feel the need to respond to anyone’s good news or positive statements with words that do nothing but poke a hole in our happy balloons and cast a pall over whatever we are celebrating. They look at those of us who choose to be optimistic as if we have all the sense of somebody who fell off the turnip truck yesterday. They defend themselves by claiming to be realists, but frankly, to the rest of us, they come across as angry, bitter people who want everyone else to be as angry and bitter as they are.
These are the people who say no one writes a perfect draft. Who say the editors who rejected them are morons. Who malign agents for not knowing good writing if it bit them in the tuchus. These are the gloomy Guses who look at every other person’s success and have to qualify it or minimize it and attribute it to luck or knowing the right person, or being in the right place at the right time. And while, yeah, those things sometimes ARE contributing factors to someone getting published, more often than not, it’s the result of years of butt-busting and hard work and heartache—which the optimists didn’t feel the need to spew all over the interwebz while it was happening because they prefer to only send the positive out in to the world.
I try to avoid these people because, while they don’t necessarily qualify as truly toxic on a psychological scale, they do nothing but bring me down. Writing is a hard business, and there are certainly difficult things we often face. There’s nothing wrong with commiserating with our community about it. But don’t let is swallow you whole. I’m a firm believer that you’re going to get back more of what you send out into the world.
- Try to look at the optimists and find something to emulate.
- Be genuinely happy for your compatriots’ successes, without having that inner thread of “It should’ve been me.”
- And if you can’t, then take your mama’s advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.