How do you deal with feeling fragile?

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Mira
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How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by Mira » September 11th, 2010, 6:11 pm

I posted a short piece this week on a friend's blog. This is the first time I've put something of mine out there - other than contest submissions at Nathan's...I guess I'm not counting those since I was writing to a prompt. This is the first time it was truly ME.

I was so scared. I was really scared no one would comment, and I was sure no one would. I spent about an hour trying to figure out if I would just let it sit there, or comment myself to fill up the space. Then a couple people commented!! I wanted to fall to my knees and bless them and all of their off-spring for generations. I'm not sure I've ever felt so grateful. Fortunately they all said nice things. I have no idea how I would have handled a harsh post.

Now, I'm checking it constantly to see if anyone else comments. No one has!!! Why not? What's wrong? Was it really awful, and the first people were just being nice???? Arrgghhh.

Good god, I hope it's not always like this. I'll be a mess. I'll have a nervous breakdown! And this is only a BLOG POST. It's nothing. It's not even published. Imagine if it was a BOOK!!!! eeek.

Is it like this for others? Does it get better? How do you handle it?????

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Melyn
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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by Melyn » September 11th, 2010, 7:03 pm

I've only ever posted writing on forums, so I have no idea what it would be like to post my writing on my blog or a friend's, where anyone can read it. My advice is to have your family/friends read it, maybe post some on your blog if you have one, and get a beta reader/critiquing partner or two. Once you have more people read your work and comment on it, you'll start to get used to it.

I'm bad at following my own advice, and I haven't let my family read anything but a few short stories of mine yet. But I will, once I write my NaNo novel and revise it. Anyway, I'm going to start posting excerpts of mine on my blog to help me develop a thicker skin. My skin is pretty thick as it is; I listen to negative comments and comments that completely rip apart my writing, and I thank the critiquer and apply the suggestions to my writing, if I agree with them. Some critiquers are negative with every piece of writing they critique, and the more people like this we're exposed to (not that they're necessarily good), the thicker our skin gets.

I think the hardest thing for me will be letting my friends read my writing. They, uh, don't really know that I write, and if I get published, they'd probably read the novel. It's hard because my friends (and other kids my age) aren't really good at criitquing things, so their critiques would either be, "It's awesome!" or "I didn't like it". The latter would probably make me cringe and hide in my room. :P

Good luck!
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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by maybegenius » September 11th, 2010, 9:30 pm

This is part of the process, and we all go through it :) It helps us build a thicker skin for the first time someone really has something critical to say about our work, which will eventually happen if we keep writing and putting ourselves out there. I wish there were an easier solution, but there really isn't. You just have to keep at it, keep learning, and keep building your tolerance for being ignored/criticized/rejected. It will always hurt, but eventually you'll get to a point where you can keep moving forward without spending too much time wallowing and feeling bad.

As for blogs, just keep in mind that they can be tricky. Even blogs with a lot of followers sometimes don't get a lot of traffic. Sometimes people read, but they feel weird commenting or just plain don't want to comment. That doesn't mean they didn't like it, necessarily, it just means they didn't comment. My personal philosophy is that basing my happiness with myself and my work by the number of comments/followers/retweets/likes/whatever I get from other people is the fastest way for me to get into a funk. They're always wonderful to receive, but we can't measure our worth based on them. Always remember: you're writing for you. If YOU are happy, that's what matters. The approval of other people is just a nice bonus :)
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polymath
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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by polymath » September 11th, 2010, 11:58 pm

My first submission was an also ran. I'd done my best. I knew soon after I sent it out that it wasn't all the way there and some reasons why. But I'd gotten my first rejection out of the way, knowing the odds were against me and knowing I had much to learn. The same sequence of events happened with many more. The most recent one incorporated everything I'd learned up to that point, but I've had a globe-shaking epiphany or two since it went out. By the time the rejection notice for it came I could appreciate all that was missing, where previous submissions tended more toward overshooting the mark but with missing stuff too.

I've treated my submissions as testing the waters, full-dress rehearsals, trial and error tries, checking out and learning the protocols and processes. I'm no less fragile than the next writer, far more fragile than fellow travelers who believe they're a gift to the world and nonetheless have rejection crises, but at the very least I dove in and got my hair wet.

I don't care for approving commentary any more than the patronizing cruelty of condescending commentary. I especially don't care for imperative commentary, like, Show, Don't Tell. If someone once had taken the time to explain that insipid remark to me, I wouldn't have had to struggle to define what it meant for me for a clear and full understanding of all its ramifications and implications. But, no, that's not the way it is, because Show, Don't Tell, they didn't understand it themselves enough to truly provide meaningful commentary, let alone provide trustworthy advice.

I found trail markers for Show, Don't Tell's meaning in some off the wall place that set me on a path toward answers of my own choosing. It took me back to the historical beginning of efforts to qualify narrative discourse, all the way back to Plato 400 BCE, twenty-four hundred years ago. First Principles have a peculiar tendency to be more profound than contemporary shorthand digressions and derivatives of them. Tell, Diegesis and show, Mimesis. Diegesis; narrator reports a narrative to an audience, in-person, real, or implied. Mimesis; a proxy reality imitation situated within a narrative's unfolding circumstances: events and ideas and characters and settings; time, place, and situation.

Once I stumbled onto the implications of complication for reader rapport and resonance and setting, plot, idea, character, and event and unity and magnitude and outcome payoff, etc, I'd made what I'm convinced is the most and last crucial investigation and discovery and application and testing step in my poet's journey. Not the end-all, be-all, there is no final solution, no absolute answer, no singular secret discovery, but at least the last piece of a very complicated puzzle, and the one attribute, simple as it is, that my writing was deficient in. I'm not asking what else do I have to learn anymore. Now the question is, what does the project I'm working on need to completely, clearly represent my creative vision?

In the end, the only commentary that truly matters is the kind that scrutinizes a work's creative vision and comments on whether a writer's intent is clear and meaningful, whether parts and parcels are virtues or vices, and contributes to the work's refinement and a writer's growth. After that, all that matters is the narrative meaningfully reaching its target audience.

By the way, Mira, that seaside goldenrod in the picture I posted is now in budding blossom.
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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by Holly » September 12th, 2010, 12:09 pm

Mira wrote: How do you handle it?????
You write the next story. Post that one on another friend's blog, or send it to a publisher or a magazine that prints short stories and anthologies. And then you write another one.

Congratulations! How fun.

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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by Quill » September 12th, 2010, 12:40 pm

Mira wrote:I posted a short piece this week on a friend's blog. This is the first time I've put something of mine out there - other than contest submissions at Nathan's...I guess I'm not counting those since I was writing to a prompt. This is the first time it was truly ME.

I was so scared. I was really scared no one would comment, and I was sure no one would. I spent about an hour trying to figure out if I would just let it sit there, or comment myself to fill up the space. Then a couple people commented!! I wanted to fall to my knees and bless them and all of their off-spring for generations. I'm not sure I've ever felt so grateful. Fortunately they all said nice things. I have no idea how I would have handled a harsh post.

Now, I'm checking it constantly to see if anyone else comments. No one has!!! Why not? What's wrong? Was it really awful, and the first people were just being nice???? Arrgghhh.

Good god, I hope it's not always like this. I'll be a mess. I'll have a nervous breakdown! And this is only a BLOG POST. It's nothing. It's not even published. Imagine if it was a BOOK!!!! eeek.

Is it like this for others? Does it get better? How do you handle it?????
Ultimately you learn to suck it up. You gird your loins.

Or else you fold. You say this is not for you and you walk away.

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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by cheekychook » September 12th, 2010, 1:48 pm

One word.

Chocolate.
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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by stephmcgee » September 12th, 2010, 1:58 pm

cheekychook wrote:One word.

Chocolate.
I'll counter that with gummy bears or Swedish fish.

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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by polymath » September 12th, 2010, 1:59 pm

I've wondered for some time now how many writers are put completely off by the uncalled-for negativity symptomatic, epidemic, chronicly and acutely emergent, of the critical process. How many gifted, talented writers might could have been but for all the unnecessary negative evaluation. I know of two who forged onward in spite of all the ad nauseam hooey and won fame and critical acclaim, Emily Dickinson posthumously, J.D. Salinger early on in his writing career. Both are thought to be agoraphobes of the social kind who suffered from AvPD spectrum tendencies. How much loss can humanity inflict and suffer and still be vital? Mononculture is a symptom of biome stagnation. Nevertheless, AvPD sufferers are a signficantly populous reclusive niche underserved by the marketplace due to a general failure of enlightened understanding on the part of critics of all stripes.

"Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) (or anxious personality disorder) is a personality disorder recognized in the DSM-IV TR handbook in a person over the age of eighteen years as characterized by a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation, and avoidance of social interaction." Wikipedia: Avoidant Personality Disorder. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoidant_p ... y_disorder
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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 12th, 2010, 3:18 pm

Thick skins indeed, people, but let's not turn into rhinos!

Once again I must second Polymath, this time on 'imperative commentary' and 'insipid remarks'. Ironically, the Show Don't Tellers violate their own rule in telling you something without showing what they mean. A useful shorthand guideline can quickly turn into a slogan that would make a Maoist cringe.

Mira, I was surprised how nervous I felt even commenting on Nathan's blog for the first time last year. Likewise when I first posted to the Bransforums only a few months ago. Thanks for your comment on the blog regarding my comments on Nathan's links, but even there I was a little nervous that the transitions between short paragraphs dealing with different links might seem abrupt!

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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 12th, 2010, 3:35 pm

Cheekychook, chocolate? YES!

Stephmgee, gummy bears and Swedish fish? Oh, wait, it's gummy bears OR Swedish fish! I was worried there for a moment...

More good points Polymath, though Avoidant Personality Disorder is itself a textbook example of a lazy limiting label, and the textbook is the DSM-4 handbook, an appalling catalogue of such labels future ages will marvel at. Again ironically, the DSM is itself a 'textbook' example of so-called OCD. Is there anything more obsessive or compulsive than trying to label as pathological every slight deviation from an ever narrower definition of 'normal' behavior?

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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by Margo » September 12th, 2010, 3:55 pm

My experience agrees with pretty much everyone. Holly, Quill, Cheekychook, Stephmcgee. You deal with the vulnerability by doing it all over again a few hundred times. Eventually, you build tolerance to the fear of rejection and to rejection itself. Many will even build tolerance to praise, which is actually pretty handy. Praise addiction can be very destructive.
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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by polymath » September 12th, 2010, 4:13 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:More good points Polymath, though Avoidant Personality Disorder is itself a textbook example of a lazy limiting label, and the textbook is the DSM-4 handbook, an appalling catalogue of such labels future ages will marvel at. Again ironically, the DSM is itself a 'textbook' example of so-called OCD. Is there anything more obsessive or compulsive than trying to label as pathological every slight deviation from an ever narrower definition of 'normal' behavior?
I disagree. The way the DSM is used is ineffective and only outlines general guidelines in an absence of comprehensive knowledge. Personality is as much a spectrum of behavior traits as it is identity, among an infinity of other factors.

An avoidant personality syndrome tendency might predominate but is all too easily labeled an autism spectrum disorder with accompanying obsessive compulsive and bipolar spectrum tendencies, albeit high functioning, the three big-sexy shorthand labels for diverse and numerous spectrums of personality disorders, none of which has to be extreme presentation cases to negatively impact and influence personality, identity, and behavior. We are social human beings for all our foibles, frailties, failings, and nobilities, not in spite of them; otherwise, we are automatons.

When a personality tendency is extreme to the point of social handicapping is when it's clinically diagnosable and meaningfully, therapeutically treatable, by law, though developing healthy coping mechanism therapy is far more helpful than medication therapy.

Throw in a little narcissistic and histrionic traits and what famous--or notoriously infamous--celebrity might that be? Many if not most of them, in my considered opinion. Some personality tendencies are encouraged by society, others condemned.

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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 12th, 2010, 5:42 pm

There's no saving the DSM, Polymath, not in the long term. It's becoming the laughing stock of the world, criticized even by some of its original creators for its ever more absurd list of 'disorders'. We humans simply don't live that way. The DSM's goal seems to be ubiquity of diagnosis, where everyone will have at least one 'disorder'. I wonder who the last 'normal' person will be...

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Re: How do you deal with feeling fragile?

Post by polymath » September 12th, 2010, 7:15 pm

J.T. Shea,

The DSM may go the way of Freud's theories, but it's better than what came before it and will inevitably lead to better still, just as the writing style of Homer has long since evolved to what today is all but incomparable. The real absurdity of the DSM in my estimation is so many don't want to face what its subtext says. Yes, everyone has a spectrum of personality syndromes, not one of several dozen disorders, but an infinite spectrum of syndrome presentations. No, if everyone is non normal, what then is the absolute baseline for comparison?

Might as well ask where the absolute center of the universe is. Since all things are relative to some arbitrary point of reference, whoever chooses the point of reference is the vantage point for normal, no matter how flawed his or her opinion of normal is. I'm normal; therefore, everyone else is off. Or as the case of late has been, there's some sort of consensus or two reaching a momentary mutual agreement and as quickly a mutually exclusive disagreement as to where to locate the point of reference. I don't believe a reference point serves any useful scientific modeling purpose in such studies. Me I know as victim, patient, practitioner, student, and investigator of human nature as far from any standard reference point in any regard.

The New York Times "I'm Okay, You're Biased" article at the link below illustrates my main point. Several cognitive biases represented in it. By the way, it does one thing any review ought to do, it dynamically pitches a book on the same topic by the author of the article. Talk about self-promotion done well.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/opini ... nd&emc=rss
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