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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Words that Stick

I finalled in a contest yesterday with my 2006 finalist, Don’t Look Back. My scores were good, 90, 91, 100!!

I entered another, newer manuscript in the same contest, different category. My scores were a bit more spread out – 99, 98, 76, 56.

Guess which scores kept me up last night?

When I was at The School from Hell, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named made a comment about an outfit (that I’m wearing today, coincidentally). She said one of the board members leaned over to her at the PTA program and asked what I was thinking, wearing such a thing. Now, I was about 25 pounds lighter, no skinny-mini, but wearing black capris and a bright Hawaiian print t-shirt didn’t seem like such a no-no. Still, I remember that comment 4 years after it was made.

A good friend of mine revealed that ONE negative comment from a friend hurt her so much she stopped writing. All the wonderful things I could say about her story and her writing couldn’t conquer that ONE negative comment!

So why do the negative comments stick? I KNOW I’m not perfect, I shouldn’t expect to be. So why do reminders that I’m not stay with me for YEARS?

I know some of it is because I want to improve. That’s certainly what kept me up with the scores last night. HOW can I make the story better? (Fortunately, the judges gave me clear comments as to what they didn’t like. Most of them were even, um, not snotty.)

I know I’m not alone. What I don’t know is how to let go.

Any thoughts?


At 8:49 AM, Blogger Sarita Leone said...

Focus on the positive, take the negative with a grain of salt. It's hard, I know, but really, we can't please everyone all the time, can we? :)

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

It does seem to be human nature to believe the negatives and forget the positives, doesn't it? I think we have to constantly work on feeling positive, no matter what is happening! I mean, you are forgetting that you finalled in a contest and that should be what you are thinking about. What makes those low scoring judges more knowledgeable and savvy than the high scoring ones? You received far more high scores than low ones.

And while I'm at it, what sort of person would pass on such a snarky comment in the first place. Some people just delight in putting others down. I suspect it is the only way they can feel superior.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I wrote a comment earlier but Blogger was acting funky. Anywhoo, I understand what you mean about the negative comments sticking. I think it's because they tap into our fears about writing or our weight or our teaching. Many moons ago, when I was teaching, I recall getting stuck on two negative comments on student evaluations in a mountain of positives. So I really know what you mean.

I try to let go to sticky negatives by talking to someone about it, which you are doing. I also force myself to read the good comments until they, too, stick. Give it a try!

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

That should have been let go of sticky negatives. Sheesh!

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

First, congrats on those crazy-good scores!!!

Coming up with a good retort and visualizing giving it sometimes helps, especially if you team it with the thought, "I could really put this person in her place, but I'm bigger than that."

The other method has this name that I can't remember, but you imagine the person in a box, saying the comment over and over, and then you imagine the box getting smaller and smaller, and the person's voice getting more high and panicky, until the box disappears into a point and the whole thing vanishes. Imagining that Minnie-Mouse voice as they shrink really takes the sting out of the comment.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Everyone else has said pretty much what I was thinking. I know it's hard not to focus on the negative, which is really annoying when you think about it. Why are our brains wired that way? Who knows? I think Diane is right that we constantly have to work at seeing the bright side of things.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Take a deep breath every time that thought hits you and whisper to yourself something beautiful. Even just "I love you Mary"! Sounds ooky but it replaces the neg with the pos and does work!

hugs & congrats on the good scores!

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Jennifer Shirk said...

Well, just think that you can't please EVERYONE. Jeez, even published books get their fair share of critics.

You got some FANTASTIC scores! And remember that sometimes what seems like a snarky comment might not have been that judges intention.

Go treat yourself for doing so well. :)

At 12:11 PM, Blogger bridget said...

wow, here's a yahoo headline on a scientific study treating exactly this issue!

you are so topical!

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Michele said...

I think maybe the reason those negative comments stick with us is that we think that these people have some sort of immense power over us through their words alone. No one has that power over you unless you give it to them. So maybe we need to say 'thanks but no thanks' to negative comments.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

WOOT - I haven't gotten ten comments on an entry in a LONG time ;)

Sarita, so much easier said than done! Maybe I was just raised to be a people pleaser....

Diane, I know - it's sad I'm not celebrating the win because of the tendency to belabor the icky scores - that really bothers me about myself. Why CAN'T I look at those? And yeah, the judge got snottier throughout the entry. I talked to the coordinator and she won't use her again. For me, it's one thing, but what about for a newbie?

Maureen, so glad you get me! Good idea about rereading the positive comments!

Thanks, Esri! Minnie Mouse, eh? If I could bring myself to picture SWSNBN.....

LOL, thanks, Trish and Bridget!

Jennifer, thanks. She said my heroine "pissed" her off. Not ticked. Not annoyed. Pissed. And she put in comments like, "Oh, please." Sweetheart, that judge.

Good point, Michele. We do give certain people too much power...and these judges are anonymous! I guess maybe some of what she said was dead on, and so if THAT was right, the rest should be too, huh?


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