Monday, April 26, 2010

What Should You Expose Yourself To?

In case you missed it, this happened over the weekend. [Edited to add: the blog author has, apparently, taken down the offensive post since Sunday, when I wrote this.] A vitriolic response to rejections that led to some pretty nasty name calling of agents who actively try to help instead of hurt new writers. A response that went somewhat viral, thanks in part to the Absolute Write forum calling the writer out. It's a train wreck. I hesitate to point it out, because I don't want her to gain any more fame infamy, but she's not the point of the post, just the source.

What surprised me in reading the comments, though, is that in amongst the intelligent comments of other writers pointing out that the author was shooting herself in the foot professionally and was, frankly, wrong in her assessment of the agents in question, there were a few who seemed to view this hate-filled rant as something positive. They commiserated with the author. They weren't just sympathetic to her feelings...they agreed with her. That response baffled me. Heck, she has around 75 followers who read and comment on her blog dedicated solely to rejection. Sure, the publishing industry is, at times, frustrating and even depressing. But to sling mud at agents who are specifically intent on helping new authors?

Then I happened to stumble upon Seth Godin's blog. One post in particular really moved me to comment about the whole situation:

Expose yourself...

With so many options in media, interaction and venues, you now get to choose what you expose yourself to.

Expose yourself to art, and you'll come to appreciate it and aspire to make it.

...Expose yourself to anger and you might get angry too.

Expose yourself to people making smart decisions and you'll probably learn how to do it as well.

...It's a choice if you want it to be.

It's that last line that really sings: "It's a choice if you want it to be." Because it is. You can choose to follow someone like the author of the vitriolic blog and expose yourself to rejection, despondence, and hopelessness. And you will, in all probability, end up bitter, angry, and vitriolic yourself.

Or you could choose to expose yourself to hope. To agents who care about new authors and try to make them better. To agents who point out your mistakes so you learn to not do them again. To websites that help you be professional. To published authors who always put a positive spin on writing or aspiring authors who seize life's opportunities or aspiring publishing professionals who are always professional or writers who use their blogs to do good for other writers.

You can look at publishing as impossible, a wasted dream, a soul-killing rejection machine.

You can look at publishing as a chance, an opportunity, a challenge.

It is a choice if you want it to be.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
-- Thomas Edison

So, what do YOU expose yourself to? What are your top sources for information, inspiration, and industry?
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