Saturday, August 31, 2013
Submission Sundays or What Jealousy Taught Me
Recently, I was made aware that some people didn't like me. WHAT?! Was my first response. And by "what" I meant "what is wrong with those people?" Because I'm always taken aback when I find out people don't like me. Unless it's someone I don't like and I've given them good reason not to like me, that's a different story. But coming from people I mostly like and hadn't done anything to, it was a shock. Then, the more we talked about it, we came to the realization that it wasn't so much dislike (well, it still might be, but not for these reasons) as jealousy. People were jealous of me. Now, I'm sure that what you're supposed to feel, what most people feel, when they find out someone is jealous of them is pride. I'm so good that people are jealous. Right? But that's not what I felt. I felt angry. Angry because it felt like their jealousy undermined my hard work. No good fortune fairy came down and tapped Mike & I on the head. Everything we have, his job, my job, a nice house, great kids, great relationships with those kids, the trips we take, everything, we worked our asses off for or went through hell for. And it felt like these people were saying we didn't deserve them, we just got lucky. And I call bullshit.
But the truth is, you never truly know anything about anyone else's life unless you live it. Those people couldn't know that I'm constantly stressed about whether my oldest son, who has autism, is happy at his group home. Is he being treated fairly, does he like the people who work there, does he miss me too much? They couldn't know how stressed I am about my youngest leaving home and how he'll never be the same person again. I will never know him as well as I do at this exact moment, because leaving home changes you. They couldn't know that I still miss my Grandma on a daily basis and how much I miss being able to share every success with the person who believed in me the most. They can't know how much my sister and I worry about our parents increasing age and declining health. Or the daily frustration of living with someone who has no short term memory. Or any of the million other things that everyone deals with on a daily basis. They didn't really know me. All they saw is what we present to the outside world. And as much as I try to be genuine and an open book in all of my interpersonal communications, I don't often share bad stuff. Mostly because I figure everyone has their own, why bring them down with mine. And truly, most of the time I choose not to dwell on mine; Mike and I adopted a policy very early on, right after CJ's diagnosis in fact, of "well, this happened, let's deal with it and move on." So I am a happy person most of the time. But it's by choice, not luck.
And because of this episode I started thinking about my own petty jealousies. Most of them work related. Such and such press signed author X. Why didn't they sub to us? So and so sold yet another story for pro rates. Why didn't I? Why aren't I having all these acceptances? So I took my own ponderings to heart and realized I have no idea what is going on in other's lives. They got those things because they worked hard for them. And if I want them? Well, I better get my ass in gear and start working harder.
A wise woman once told me I can't measure my success by the success of others because success is personal. There's no one definition that applies across the board. And what I realized was the reason I wasn't having success was because I wasn't putting in the time and effort. If I want author X then I need to do something to put the press on their radar. And if I want an acceptance letter with a pro rate sale, well I'd better start finishing my stories/novellas/novels and submitting them. Because the truth is I bust my ass for the press, but I'm a lazy writer. I let myself get distracted, I procrastinate, I find 15 other things I "should" be doing. And that's my bad. I know what I need to do. And so, I started last week. Last weekend I sent in three submissions. I already had two out, so that's five. Four original stories and one reprint. So far, I've heard nothing back. Two I think have a real chance. The other three are a gamble. But if they come back with a rejection notice, I will research some more markets and get them out again, because that's what it takes. And from now on, I will finish one new story per month and send it out too, until I have so many subs out that the law of averages takes effect. Something has to sell, right? I mean, I have sold stories before.
So the moral of this story is I took something unpleasant and turned it around by choice. And every time you do that, the Universe smiles for like 3.5 seconds. I mean, c'mon, it's a busy Universe and you really aren't that important. But maybe it helps to bolster hope for the human race. And for you writerly types who are still with me? The lesson is: success comes with backbreaking (or mind bending in this case) labor. Not good luck, not fairies or wishing wells, but your own sweat and tears. You have to put the work in to reap the rewards. And will we all make it? No. I mean some people just aren't ready, or talented enough, or even interesting. But no one is going to make it if they don't try, if they don't keep trying. And the more you write, the more you read other's writing, the more you work on your craft, the better you get. And the better you get, the better your chances of acceptance. It's a circle of win.
So I'm starting "Submission Sundays." Every Sunday I will evaluate my submissions. The ones sent back rejected, will be looked at, tweaked, and sent somewhere else. New stories will get the same treatment. I want to have at least five and possibly ten subs out at all times. This Sunday, I have a "pass" since they are all still out and I didn't get anything new written or finished this week. But I'm looking for some of you writers out there to join me. I might even make a Facebook group. Because I do better when held accountable to others. And so do some of you. And some of you are good all on your own, but might enjoy kicking other's in the pants. C'mon, it'll be fun.
And stop being jealous. Shake it off, look around, and appreciate your own blessings. You might not want the other person's bad times or dues they paid to get those good things.