Praise it Forward
When I first started submitting my work, a very good friend gave me one solid piece of advice: Be gracious. As a journalist, she warned that anything that is creative can and will receive criticism.
“It’s the way you handle yourself that will matter most,” she warned. “The action is nothing. It’s all about the reaction.”
At the time, I took the words at face value but didn’t give them proper consideration. If I didn’t get accepted, no big deal, right? Writing is subjective. We all have our own personal tastes and preferences in movies, theater, and music. Then, a few months later, I got the biggest wake-up call of my life. It was one of the most nasty rejection letters you can imagine. It wasn’t over my material, but rather, a glitch in my e-mail. Apparently, the query didn’t attach, and I sent the first line of my proposal but nothing more. Being referred to as a moron wasn’t very nice. I remember being so angry I was actually trembling. I wanted to email the woman and give her a tongue lashing of equal measure, as well an explanation of what transpired.
Instead, I called my friend.
“This is the very thing I was telling you about,” she told me calmly. “Handle yourself professionally. This is business. Just because she handled it inappropriately, doesn’t mean you have to as well.”
So, I sat down, responded in a very cordial tone, thanked the woman for her time, and apologized for the glitch. Then, I continued on with business as usual, and eventually got over it.
I’ve had other instances when I’ve been tempted to speak out of turn, or to confront a nasty nellie. A stab to the pride–be it from a snarky review or a disgruntled agent–is painful. But when I’m close to sprouting horns and going Linda Blair, I remember that if I turn to the dark side and rant like a mad woman, that’s something people won’t forget. A little miscommunication or an error on my part is forgivable, but never unprofessional behavior. And do you know how I remove the nastiness that taints my goodwill to others?
I send praise forward.
Each time I read a story or book I truly enjoy, especially from e-book authors, I’ll send a simple email and thank them for it. 99.9% of the time, I get a very sweet response in turn, thanking me for brightening their day. It makes them happy, and in turn it makes me happy for them. There’s nothing like sending a little praise forward. I’ve even made new friends along the way.
Just a little something to think about.
Jaime AKA J.A. Saare