Horrible Feelings!

Having a preteen daughter means that I’ve been having lots of conversations lately about FEELINGS. I find myself saying the following things on a regular basis…

“It is totally normal to feel this way, but you get to decide how to respond to those feelings.”

“Your feelings are not in charge. You get to decide what happens next.”

“I understand you are disappointed. Take a day to be bummed out and then let’s decide how you can make a plan to move forward.”

Now I’m no therapist, just a mom trying to do her best in teaching her kid how to manage her feelings. And I’m certainly not perfect. I end most every conversation by sending up a quick prayer that I’m not ruining her for life. But really, let’s be honest, usually when we walk our kids through things like this, aren’t we actually talking to ourselves? I have to give myself the same pep-talk pretty much daily.

“You can’t control what other people do, you can only control how you respond to it.”

Sound familiar?

As writers, we are given plenty of opportunities to feel disappointed. Annoyed. Miffed. Indignant! But what do we do with these feelings?

I was so delighted when I picked up HORRIBLE BEAR by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora, because it reflected back to me these very human feelings that I both have and try to coach my daughter through.

HB cover

Bear didn’t mean to break a little girl’s kite, but she’s upset anyway–upset enough to shout “HORRIBLE BEAR!” Bear is indignant. He doesn’t think he’s horrible! Then Bear gets a truly Horrible Bear idea. What will he do next? As Bear prepares to live up to his formerly undeserved reputation, the girl makes a mistake of her own, and realizes that maybe–just maybe–Bear isn’t as horrible as she had thought.

 

When a little girl’s kite breaks, she thinks bear is to blame.

HORRIBLE BEAR!

From there, her feelings that the bear is HORRIBLE snowball, until she is marching through her life, shouting to anyone who will listen, what a HORRIBLE BEAR!

Oh, the feelings.

We get back a critique where it’s suggested we change the POV of our 50,000 word novel. Annoyed.

HORRIBLE CRITIQUE PARTNER!

We send our work out to a publisher and get another rejection. Disappointed.

HORRIBLE EDITOR!

We send a query to an agent and don’t even get a response. Miffed.

HORRIBLE AGENT!

These horrible feelings about how these horrible people are out to sabotage our writing careers come fast and furious. And if they are not managed, they can get us in trouble.

Now, let me save you a lot of regrets in the publishing industry by saying to you right now:

“It is totally normal to feel this way, but you get to decide how to respond to those feelings.”

“I understand you are disappointed. Take a day to be bummed out and then let’s decide how you can make a plan to move forward.”

Because usually, once we have a little time to clear our heads, we realize that our critique partner is actually not horrible. That the agents and editors we send our work to are probably pretty good people. And that no one is out to take down our careers.

So, step away from the computer.

Don’t respond to that email with your feelings pouring out unchecked.

And if you need to, roll down your window, stick your head out, and scream to no one in particular, “Horrible Bear!” I’ll know exactly what you mean.

10 thoughts on “Horrible Feelings!

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  1. Your last paragraph is hilarious. Made me laugh out loud, especially the final sentence. Great article. It hits home and is excellent advice for sure!

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  2. That being said, having sat through any number of group critiques with that one person who knew it all in spite of a total lack of talent on his own part, and who could rip a new writer to shreds by tossing off the labels to criticisms she barely understood herself, there were many times I almost bit my tongue off to not scream, “Horrible asshole bear,” right there in the room.

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  3. Great post. “I understand you are disappointed. Take a day to be bummed out and then let’s decide how you can make a plan to move forward.” Excellent advice writers should take, especially when calming breaths aren’t enough…

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