A treat for today …

Yes, my dear readers, Anne Allen is yet another friend I met surfing in cyber-space. The first time on Twitter and then on her blog.

I’m the author of two comic suspense novels published in the UK by erotica publishers SilverMoon under their short-lived mainstream imprint, Babash-Ryan: FOOD OF LOVE (2003) and THE BEST REVENGE (2005.) Both novels, published under the initial-less name Anne Allen are, alas, out of print.

I lived the UK from 2002-2005, working and living in the 200-year-old Shadowline Building with the maverick SilverMoonsters in Gainsborough, Lincs. I admit to falling in love with Lincolnshire and all things English. Especially the cheese. And Plain Chocolate Digestive Biscuits—a self-deprecating name for the world’s most addictive cookies.

I’ve been in the writing business long enough to have collected a pretty full set of mistakes. I blog in hopes of helping a few newbies make better choices.

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Please be sure to visit Anne’s blog and link to her many great posts, publications and learning tools for both newbie writers and those a bit more tarnished.

I read this post and knew I had to pass it on, if for no other reason, than each of us should know our value, even when forces in the outside world attempt to block or squash our dreams. Posted originally on Anne’s blog, October 31, 2010.

The Writer’s Enemy List: Dream Smashers, Crazymakers and Groucho Marxists

 When you start a writing project, whether you’re diving into the intensity of NaNoWriMo, or just carving out a few hours to peck away at the keyboard on weekends, it helps to get emotional support from friends and family.

But be prepared for the opposite.

Some people in your life may find your new interest threatening, and if you’re not emotionally prepared, they can derail your project and undermine your self-esteem. They’ll work to sabotage your writing and confidence in dozens of subtle—or not-so-subtle—ways.

Here are some non-supportive types to watch out for, and tips on how to deal with them:

Dream Smashers

  • These are the know-it-alls who specialize in discouragement.
  • They’re full of statistics showing the odds against getting published.  They’ll send links to articles with dire warnings about carpal tunnel syndrome and back injuries due to long sessions with the computer.
  • They have an unending supply of stories about suicide and depression in writers.

They may appear to be supportive at first, and may even express an eagerness to read your WIP—only to give entirely negative feedback.

  • They always “know” some rule that you’ve broken—probably mis-remembered from their 5th grade grammar class.
  • They’ll criticize your premise in a way that’s also a personal attack: “nobody wants to read about women over 40/washed-up athletes/teenagers with disabilities.”
  • They’ll criticize anything in your work that doesn’t promote their own world view, and suggest the story would be much better if the hero were more like them. 

These people have given up on their own dreams, and want you to do the same. Encourage them to write their own damn books.

Crazymakers

Creativity guru Julia Cameron described these people as “storm centers…long on problems but short on solutions.”

They are the drama queens, emotional vampires, and control freaks who crave your full- time attention and can’t stand for you to focus on anything but their own dramas.

Writers are magnets for these people because we tend to be good listeners.

  • You tell your Crazymaker friend your writing schedule, but she’ll always “forget,” and show up at exactly the time your story is on a roll. She’ll draw you into a weepy tale of woe, saying you’re the “only one who understands.”
  • Have a deadline for a difficult article? That’s the moment Crazymaker will stomp into your office and confess the affair he had four years ago when you were on a relationship break. 
  • Got an agent waiting for a rewrite? That’s the week Mrs. Crazymaker calls to beg you to babysit her sick child because she can’t take off work. After all, she has a REAL job

Crazymakers need to be center stage, 24/7. Nothing you do can be of any importance: your job description is “minion.”

Resign.

Groucho Marxists

The Groucho Marxist manifesto is, to paraphrase the great Julius Henry Marx: “I do not care to read a book by a person who would accept me as a friend.”

Groucho Marxists are your family members and buddies who assume your work is terrible because it was written by somebody they know.

I’m not talking about those helpful beta readers who comb through your unpublished manuscript looking for flaws to be fixed before you submit.

These are the folks who feel compelled to ridicule and belittle your work, whether they’ve read it or not. No amount of success will convince them you’re any good.

  • You get a story published. Groucho can’t be bothered to read it. But he’s always bringing you stories by other writers in your genre, “so you can see how a REAL writer does it.”
  • You get your big call from that agent. Groucho will try to convince you she’s a scammer. Why would a real agent represent a nobody like you?
  • You sign with a publisher. Groucho thinks he’s heard a rumor the company is about to go under: look how desperate they must be if they’d publish your book.
  • You get a good review. Groucho doesn’t have time to read it. But he has lots of time to research other pieces by that reviewer to show the reviewer has terrible taste.
  • You win a Pulitzer. What? No Nobel?

 These people are highly competitive and feel your success will make you “better than them.”

Remind them of their own skills and accomplishments and reassure them that any writing success you achieve won’t change your relationship.

It’s hard enough to live with the constant rejection we have to deal with in this industry, so when you’re attacked in your personal life, it’s tough to hang on. You have to erect strong boundaries and be fierce in defending them. But if you’re serious about your work, the people who really care about you will learn to treat your time and work with respect.

The others will evaporate. Chances are you won’t miss them.

Please leave your comments and/or questions for Anne.

fOIS In The City

 

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “A treat for today …

  1. christicorbett

    I love this look at how people “support” writers!

    So hilarious, and sadly so true.

    Florence, thanks for introducing me to Anne.

    My question for Anne is…when encountering these types of people in your own writing life did you retort with snappy comebacks or did you turn the other cheek?

    Christi Corbett
    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

    Like

  2. Hi Christi–I used to try to be cute. But mostly people like this don’t get it.

    So I’ve tried to eliminate them from my life–or at least my immediate circle. Sometimes I can freeze them out, and sometimes I have to tell them in no uncertain terms that their negativity is hazardous to my health–and theirs, if they don’t shut the #$%*up.

    Like

  3. themommyvan

    Florence… first the previous post regarding Sunday and your work right now with the rewrites. Wow… congrats. I hope your Sunday routine gives you a much earned (and probably needed) recharge. I remember as a kid my parents lazing around Sunday morning… reading the paper, watching the morning news shows… torturing the daylights out of my young brother and I for the ‘boredom.’ As an adult I realize… ‘recharge’ indeed… and kinda like church.. right?

    Anne.. I want to ask you about another type… the Praiser. As in.. the people (usually family.. some friends) who tell you how great you are and how ‘easy’ it would be for you.. say.. to get published. Easy to publish an article in a major magazine, to write a best-selling novel… POOF!!! People who see crap books or the TJ Maxx $3.99 ‘How-to’ type stocking stuffers and figure, if that stuff can get published.. it’s got to be a breeze for anything else to get published.

    Are these people a dream for being verbally supportive? Yes. Can they understand the myriad of reasons why creating a work.. let alone, navigating the publishing world to get it published is NOT so ‘easy?’ No. For as much as they laud you for what they deem to be great writing of yours (what little they read of it beyond short tidbits), they also slam you for not taking what they perceive to be a few simple steps to get published. So, they slam you with criticism for.. you know… squandering your talent.

    Like

  4. Mommyvan–this is brilliant–and soooo true. OK, I’m going to add “the Praiser” to my “Enemies List”. Thanks so much for this. I’ve been a victim of one of these. Actually, she was more upsetting than the Groucho Marxists. It’s as if they “own” your talent and feel they have a right to control it–and somehow, by extension–the entire publishing industry.

    I hope it’s OK if I blog a little about this category at some point?

    Thanks for this!

    Like

  5. Anne, thanks for your wonderful comments and I think it’s a great idea to blog about it.

    Let me and Mommyvan know. We’d both be interested in your “take” on this.

    It is as I told you the first day I read your post. This resonates in so many ways for so many of us who have been the target for these types. As a writer, I tend to be a bit on the insecure, shy side and my outgoing manner with people is more bravado and front. When I used to allows these types to get to my soft under belly, I suffered.

    No more. Now I smile and walk away. I don’t know who wrote it … but I will repeat … success is the best revenge 🙂

    Like

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