Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Importance of Praise

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

Sure. Right. I can delude myself into thinking what people say doesn't matter, but it does. Thankfully, it doesn't matter much to me. I'm the Queen of Rejection, the Master of Being Passed Over. I even like the sound of that, so I think I'll keep that title.

I do like praise, though. I can push through insults, grit my teeth against a storm of criticism and just keep on going. I'm tough and thick-skinned. But when somebody says something nice, I get all mushy inside.

Consider this comment, from one of my fellow contributors to the up-coming Death by Chocolate anthology, who edited my story:

I’m not going to be much help to you, Cheryl –I adore the story as it is. I think your writing is gorgeous! I’m crazy about the character names and the village setting. (I have a thing for historical fiction.) It was actually difficult to critique because I got sucked into the story. I’m getting so excited about our anthology! Have you published any novels or plan to self-pub? I’d love to read your books and I’m not just saying that to be a nice author friend. I love your writing style!


Even better, this author's work was AWESOME--a great story!--so her praise means more to me. And asking about other stuff I've written was icing on the cake. Unfortunately, I haven't published any e-books. (Darn!)

Another writer, who has read my first novel (which I'm currently querying out to agents), has been e-mailing me about my fourth novel, set in the Caribbean, literally, since it's about a siren. Yesterday, she told me:

I am desperate to read your mermaid story.  Can I beta read or have you got that all done?


*sigh* She actually used the word "desperate"! Can you think of anything more invigorating? Of course, I haven't even revised the rough draft for this novel, and it's really terrible at this point, so she'll have to wait to read it... but isn't that an awesome comment?!? Even now I'm grinning.

More important, I'm writing. I'm taking the whole day to work on my Thomas novel (Novel #1), to get it ready for the ABNA contest (which I'll blog on soon). And now I have one more reason to get to work on my mermaid novel--and that means revising #3 first. Will I actually get three novels totally revised this year? Who knows? These little bits of praise, scattered here and there and reaching me at the best times, keep me hopeful. And they keep me writing (which is even more important).

Is there someone you can praise? Someone who needs a boost? You never know what magic your comments might work in the lives of someone else.

4 comments:

  1. That IS brilliant feedback on your story! Right now I too need praise. Hopefully one day I won't care either way. I plan to avoid seeing good or bad ratings of my work in future. I don't need the highs and lows, I just need to keep writing!

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  2. I entirely agree about the importance of praise. It's so easy to forget the effect our words are having, by their presence or their absence. I think it's especially true with today's instant communications. In a face-to-face conversation a smile, a gesture, a pat on the back can convey so much.

    You have every right to go mushy, you deserve it. :)

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  3. Praise is so undervalued, particularly praise that is clearly sincere. It can drive you to write and really cap your day.

    I try to be free with praise, though I'm not as free as I could be. I make sure, though, if I have something good to say, I mean it, so if someone gets a compliment from me, they know I'm genuinely pleased/impressed.

    Which is why I never miss your posts. We may not write stuff well suited to each other, but I happen to know you're full to the brim with talent, ingenuity, creativity and wit. So, don't stop.

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  4. Hi! Really glad I found your blog!

    I think praise is so important - especially with creative endeavours! Creativity is such a personal thing - for me, positive feedback makes me feel like I'm on top of the world (and negative feedback the complete opposite - but let's not think about that!)
    Having read this piece it's made me think how I should be positive more often and tell people when I see/hear/read something good - maybe that will be my resolution this year.

    Looking forward to the anthology soon :)

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