Friday, August 17, 2007

We're Not Normal

So the other day, my husband was told "no" to something. And he was pissed. Annoyed and peeved too. And a little demoralized. You have understand: my husband is very, very good at what he does, which has lead to success, so rarely, does someone say, "Er, sorry, no thanks to that idea." (Of course, he hears "no" just plenty around our house. Hee.)

He came home and we chatted about it, and I said, "Look, you can't take it personally," and he said, "Of course I can! How can I not take it personally?" And I looked at him like he had ten heads because I'm so used to not taking anything personally in our business that I didn't see how on earth he could consider this personal.

So over dinner, I said, "Let's role play." (No you dirty birds, don't go there.)

He shrugged and said, "Fine."

"An editor told me today that my manuscript wasn't publishable....what would you say?"

"I'd say that he's an idiot," my husband replied.

"Exactly!" I answered, triumphant in my brilliance. "You wouldn't personalize it when it comes to my job, so you shouldn't personalize it when it comes to yours."

He begrudgingly admitted to a sliver of my brilliance and then we moved on. But later, it dawned on me: I think I'm the one with the abnormal reaction, not him. Of course it's rational to feel the sting of rejection rather than just coast past it; of course it's rational to be pissed and annoyed and a little demoralized. But I've been in this business for so long that my armor is basically impenetrable.

And I'll tell you what: I wouldn't have it any other way. While my husband might not get rejected very often in his line of work, in our line of work, it's inevitable. It doesn't stop just because you've landed national magazine stories or even published your first novel. And I've repeatedly said it on this blog, but I'll say it again: if you have a thin skin or take rejection personally, even if it might be slightly personal, this isn't the industry for you. Because you know, sure, every once in a while, that rejection just might be personal, but guess what? You don't have the luxury to consider that it might be, because, that, my friends, is a slippery-slope. If you spend time trying to sort through the intricacies of what all the various rejections mean - are they personal, are they not, do they hate you, do they hate the work? - you'll spend far too much energy and effort focused on the negatives and eventually, it will suck away at both your self-confidence and your writing.

Which is why I've developed an emotional moat: nothing's getting through to me unless I let it. And sure, that might not be normal, but it's what you need to get by as a writer. My husband's not a writer, so for him, sure, he can feel that sting, but honestly, I can't afford to. My ego and confidence would be bloodied on a daily basis.

So...what do you think? Are writers normal or not when it comes to rejection and how we cope with it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It Appears That I'm a Junkie

So I was straightening up our living room last week because our apartment is on the market, and really, all it ever feels like I do is straighten up our living room, but as I was doing so, I encountered masses and piles and stacks of magazines: some new, some old, many unread, frankly, many untouched. And while hints of my problem have danced around corners of my mind in the past, last week, it became unavoidably apparent: I am a magazine junkie, and it's time to quit. Or at least slow down.

So I counted. And it seems that I subscribe to about 20 magazines, which means, because a few of these are weeklies, that I'd have to read about one magazine a day per month to keep up. Which is just insane! I mean, I barely have time to take one shower a day, much less read that much per day. I do most of my mag reading in the gym, and even in a 45-60 minute workout, I can't get through an entire magazine (not to mention that I often grab mags there - or if I run on the treadmill, I don't read at all - which only contributes to my backlog), so it dawned on me last week that it was time for an intervention. Namely, as many of these mags send me note after note, begging for renewal, I'm going to have to just say no. Not this year. Not my $12. Not because I can't spare the $12. But because I can't take the clutter! I can't take the guilt of the magazine cover looking longingly up at me from my coffee table or my dining room chairs (more piles there) or my nightstand, crying, "Please read me!," and me promising that I will, knowing in the back of my mind that I really probably won't and it's just another obligation on my to-do list. So goodbye many of my old standbys that I've subscribed to for longer than I can remember. Goodbye. It was fun while it lasted. But to be honest, I'm not sure how much I'll miss some of you.

It has occurred to me, however, through this cleansing process, that there are a few magazines that I can't live without. And while I'm cutting back, I'm certainly not cutting myself off. (Egads! I'm a magazine writer for cryin' out loud! No way could I go or would I want to go cold turkey!) I'm whittling the list down to 12-15 or so vital mags - ones I actually look forward to getting. But if I had to choose just two or three? Well, I'd say that Women's Health and Entertainment Weekly will basically get a lifetime pass from me. I'll be 92 and still reading them. Fear not subscription departments - you'll always have my credit card! many mags do you subscribe to and which ones could you absolutely never give up?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Magazine Blogs

Question of the week: Are there any good blogs which specialize in writing magazine articles?

Well, for starters, have you searched the archives of my blog? I've tackled a lot of magazine-related questions here.

As far as ONLY handling magazine writing, I'm not sure. I'd definitely check out The Renegade Writer - while they're not limited to magazines, they have oodles of excellent advice about breaking into the industry, and their books can be invaluable.

And while it's not a blog, I think that Freelance Success is the best online tool for any writer. When I was just starting out, I gleaned SO MUCH knowledge on the forums that it's hard for me to even imagine the trajectory of my career if it hadn't been for FLX, and now, while I don't necessarily reap the same amounts of info (only because I'm more of a veteran), I try to contribute advice when I can and equally as valuable, have forged close friendships and a level of support that I couldn't do without. A few things about FLX: yes, you have to pay to join, as such you should. This weeds out spammers and people who aren't serious about their careers. Secondly, there are a lot of veterans on the boards who happily offer advice, but do cruise through the archives to make sure you're not asking a question that's been answered 100 times. Lastly, join in the discussion! The more you give, the more you'll get out of it.

So those are my thoughts. I'm sure that there are plenty of other blogs that specialize in mag writing, so readers, what are your suggestions?