With only three days remaining, I am taking Sunday to prepare for the coming week. A good friend of mine suggested a very good tactic for handling reviews. He told me that I should write down every possible critique I think I’ll get hit with, and that way, if I do, I can look at the list and at feel better having prepared for it. He also said that if I get hit with something not on the list, I am entitled to feel a certain degree of justified surprise. When I was in college the theatre department had a similar policy on sour grapes when it came to being cast in a show. Basically the idea was this: If you auditioned for a show, and were not cast in the role you wanted (or not at all) you were entitled to a full 24 hour period of time to wallow in misery. After that, you had to get over it, and move forward. As both a freshman and sophomore, I struggled to get cast in any of the shows. This made sense as I was competing not only with the incredible talent that came into the department on my year, but also competing with actors who were older than me, that the faculty had more knowledge of. However, I am always thankful that I came in as a messy (I had a lot of bad actor habits) underdog. Having a whole series of people to look up to, to compete with, really forced me to practice my craft and eventually get better.
In writing, finding rivals is harder. Most authors I want to emulate are older (or dead) and have reached a level of success that makes them less likely to mentor new writers. However, there are some shining examples (Steve Berman who runs Lethe Press for example) of successful authors who reach out to younger writers and do what they can to lift them up. I like the idea of paying it forward, which is one of the reasons I agreed (for the 3rd year in a row) to be a judge for #QueryKombat. While I certainly hope that “The Role” and the other books I hope to one day get published will eventually make me an author others aspire to be like, I hope that I’ll always remember to make time to give those that reach out, a helping hand.