Friday, January 20, 2006

Bite Your Tongue

I just finished writing an article for my chapter's newsletter on how to break up with your critique partner. When it was done, I felt like a cross between a Cosmo editor and Ann Landers. It seems such a delicate balance - trying to think of yourself and get out of a situation that isn't helping you or your writing versus not ticking people off. Sometimes it is difficult to have both, especially if your CP is an unreasonable sort, but it is something that must be done. The romance writing community is VERY small, even though it seems we're competing against the masses for those coveted contracts. The CP you make angry could talk to a friend, who can talk to her published friend, who could mention it to her editor or agent over lunch. That editor or agent could very well recall that incident when your MS is on her desk at some point in the future.

As a Maven once said, "grudges aren't heavy, you can carry them forever."

At my last RWA meeting, the fabulous Kelley St. John (check out her interview in the Sandbox) did a talk on self promotion. She even mentioned the Playground and our Blog as fine examples - thank you, Kelley. She also pointed out some important notes about misuse of various promotion tools, like blogs. I may think that I'm just throwing my thoughts out into cyberspace and that no one will ever read them. No one really cares about what I have to say, anyway. WRONG. Lots of people read blogs. Editors. Agents. Important people. It is a fabulous, but also frightening concept. It might work in your favor or it might go horribly awry.

In 5th grade, a note I passed to another girl got picked up by the teacher. In it, I had verbally battered another girl in the class that had told a boy that I thought he was cute. She didn't read it aloud, thank goodness, but I had to stay after class for a "talking to." What she told me has stuck with me for life - don't ever put it in writing. Yes, the girl had betrayed my trust. Yes, she had embrassed me. Yes, she might very well be all the horrible things I said she was. But - never put it in writing. Words are just words, but once you put them down on paper, they turn into evidence to be used against you in a court of law - or in my case - the court of 5th grade drama queens.

The same applies to blogs. I think this is especially true because some people think a blog is their own 1st Amendment megaphone for complaining about the world that has done them wrong. Is that really the image you want to project of yourself to others? That you're a whiny baby with a mouth like a sailor? If you're a 14 year old boy with hormonal aggression, that's one thing, but if you're trying to become a professional in a business like this - it's not just inappropriate, it's tacky.

It is one of the reasons the Playground has strict rules about mentioning specifics in Time Out or any rants that might surface on the blog. Yes, that editor might have blown us off. Yes, that judge might have raked our entry over the coals. Yes, the CP might have taken our dreams and stomped them into a fine powder. But don't put it in writing. At least with a journal you can hide it under your bed and the odds of it showing up on a Senior Editor's desk are pretty slim unless you mix up your packages at the Post Office. With a blog, anyone with an interest and an internet connection can access it. Not just access it - read it. And remember it. Share it. Pass it on.

I don't really have a question to pose to the group or a profound truth to share, it was just on my mind today as I worked on that article and thought about what Kelley said. So, fabulous editors and agents - if you're reading this - I love you. I love your work. I love your line. You are artistry with an editor's pen. (Was that too much??) :) If you're not an editor - what the heck - I love you too. I'd much rather share good vibes across cyberspace than bad ones.



Kelley St. John said...

Smarty Pants --
So glad you enjoyed the workshop :) And your story about the 5th grade note is a perfect example of watching those words put to the page (or the Net). Then again, the playground has known that from the get-go, and as a result, has an awesome blog (and a really cool site as well)! Love the interviews with the Mavens :)


Problem Child said...

First, Kelley reads our

Second...not only should you not put things in writing, you should also be very careful about what you say and who you say it to. The Playground operates on Vegas Rules, and I trust the Playfriends not to repeat what I say when I need to vent. I can't say that about the seemingly nice and sympathetic lady I met in the elevator...

I trust the Playfriends, but I also have dirt on them--you rat on me, I rat on you!:-)


Playground Monitor said...

Yeah -- neat that Kelley reads our blog. Hi Kelley! I too enjoyed the heck out of your workshop.

I read a post on the Desire Authors blog about being careful with what you say. And in the course of doing research for an article about blogging, I've been told over and over by various authors that you should be careful what you post because it WILL come back to haunt you.

Playground Monitor said...

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Instigator said...

Hi Kelley! I enjoyed the heck out of your workshop too. I've filed the info away for constant reference.

And I agree about being careful what you say or write. And it's a hard thing for me and my big mouth. I'm very careful with other people's information but tend to be a little free with my own :0)