Wed. April 28, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 340 — Unsustainable Stress Levels

image courtesy of kalhh via pixabay.com

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Rainy and cool

Today is a rough day. It is the second of the hoped-for moving dates I’d wanted when we were deep in this process. To say I feel like a complete failure on personal and professional levels because this isn’t our moving day is an understatement.

Yesterday was rough, too. The recruiter who’d claimed to want the morning appointment blew me off. No contact, no response when I followed up. Just skipped the appointment. Not a surprise, but any time I see that “staffing agency” listed, I know to avoid it.

The property manager who had the afternoon phone appointment didn’t call, either, although I did get an apology email in the evening, and we’re going to try to set up something for tomorrow. I’m hoping we can go up and take a look at it over the weekend.

I thought I’d found another, really cute house in Nashua for rent. At first it didn’t come up in any realtor searches, but digging a bit deeper, it did –yup, another scam. So I reported it.

In the afternoon, I heard back from one of the LOIs stating they wanted to “get to know me better” and sent me a link – to write an unpaid, 250-word piece.

I responded with a cordial email and the contract/rates for that.

I got an almost immediate snarky email back from the entitled white boy who runs the company, stating that they paid for test pieces further in the process, but a 250-word piece about something I knew about “shouldn’t take much time.”

Talk about a red flag right there. How would he know how much time something took? Short pieces need a great deal of care, to make sure that every word carries more than its weight.

I shot back, again, politely but firmly, that a good 250-word piece, even on a topic well within my wheelhouse, takes time, skill, and care, and deserves compensation. Our work styles are obviously incompatible.

Entitled white boy mansplaining his attempt to get free labor. No, thank you. So sick of it.

Because of the two meetings (which ended up not happening), I couldn’t deep dive into any project. It was a frustrating day.

I did get out a bunch of LOIs, including to a really cool project that would be long-term, steady, and in one of my favorite arenas.

I did some research into the KY Derby for Saturday.

Got some reading done. I’m close to the end of the third category of entries (although I still have a lot of paperwork to enter). I hope to have my decision by either Friday or Saturday. I’m reading a magical realism book that I waver between liking because it’s clever and getting frustrated with for jumping around too much.

Made Chicken Chow Mein for dinner – that’s turning into a major comfort food for me.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. Everyone’s ready for the school year to be over.

The mask mandate is being lifted for being in outdoor spaces as of Friday. Which means the Covidiots will be even dumber inside.

We watched some DOC MARTIN, and I went to bed early.  Of course, that meant I work up a little after 2 AM, fretting, and couldn’t go back to sleep.

I made myself write this morning, at least a few pages. I was tempted to punish myself and not do it, but I needed to, and it helped. I still have two pieces that I need to finish this week.

Living at this level of stress and uncertainty is unsustainable. But I just don’t know what to do. I’m at the end of my rope.

Today, I have a stressful day onsite with a client, but at least there’s Remote Chat to which to look forward.

Keep a good thought for me, okay? Thanks.

Published in: on April 28, 2021 at 5:04 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 28, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 340 — Unsustainable Stress Levels  
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Mon. July 23, 2018: Dealing with Failure #UpbeatAuthors

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Image courtesy of Cleverpics via pixabay.com

Monday, July 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde

As usual, this will focus on how failure affects us as authors, in our work and life. Some aspects can be applied to other parts of life, but the focus is on our art.

The first way to deal with it is to define it.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “failure” as:

Definition of failure

1a omission of occurrence or performance; specifically failing to perform a duty or expected action 

  • failure to pay the rent on time
(1) a state of inability to perform a normal function 

  • kidney failure

 — compare heart failure 

(2) an abrupt cessation of normal functioning 

  • a power failure
c a fracturing or giving way under stress 

  • structural failure
2a lack of success
b a failing in business bankruptcy 

  • He was trying to rescue the company from failure.
3a a falling short deficiency 

  • a crop failure
4one that has failed 

  • He felt like a failure when he wasn’t accepted into law school.

 

But do you?

I sometimes feel I fail if I let someone else down. If it’s because I was thoughtless or disorganized, then it’s on me and I damn well better find a way to make it right. But sometimes it’s because the other person put an unfair expectation on me and I wasn’t strong enough to say no right off.

Sometimes I feel that I failed if I don’t get an acceptance from a market or a publisher or a grant to which I applied. Yes, I failed to get that particular slot. Most of the time, though, another opportunity comes up that I wouldn’t have been able to accept if I had landed the previous one. Also, because I’ve worked on the publisher side of the table, I know that acceptance is more than just a well-written book: it’s about fitting the tone of a particular publisher, and fitting into the needs of a particular list. Most traditional publishers and some of the smaller publishers have to balance their list so it appeals to a spectrum of readers. If they have too many of one kind of book and none of another in any particular season, they will lose readers that season, and might never regain them. It’s about where your piece fits into the bigger picture, not just your piece.

Many organizations that give out grants expect you to apply (and fail to get an acceptance) over a period of years before they take the application seriously. This always angered me, even when I worked for such non-profits. But many organizations want to see that an artist can sustain work over a period of years before giving that individual money. They don’t want someone who will use a day job or another excuse not to work, or to accept the grant and not meet the requirements of the work that needs to be produced.

None of that knowledge takes the sting out of those refusals, or alleviates the sense of failure.

How do you deal with it?

Acknowledge that you feel angry, sad, whatever. Don’t get on social media and rant and rave against the publisher, agent, or organization. It’s fine to admit disappointment, but don’t attack. Save the venting to do in person, privately, with people you trust. Because there IS a need to vent; there’s just no need to do so publicly. Your feelings are your feelings; they are valid. How you choose to handle them has consequences.

If there’s any feedback, step away for a few days, and then re-visit it with a more objective sensibility. What can you learn from this? How can you apply it positively moving forward?

There are certain publishers and/or organizations that are not a right fit. Just “getting published” isn’t enough. It has to be a place where you have a positive working relationship and both the writer’s and the publisher’s needs and goals are met. Sometimes what starts out as a promising relationship deteriorates. It’s not that one side is “better” or “right” — it’s simply that the needs of both parties aren’t being met, and it’s time to part ways (hopefully amicably), so you can both move on to a better situation. That’s true in any job situation.

I think it’s often harder for artists to deal with failure because what we do is so personal, so much a part of ourselves. It’s difficult not to feel that it’s a rejection of us as human beings.

If something we wrote doesn’t sell well or sell at all, we feel we failed. After a period of time, we can look back. Could it have been structured better? Used stronger language? Have you learned something in the interim that makes it work now? If it’s a sales number, what can you learn from that book’s campaign that you can apply to future promotions? We are pushed to think in terms of immediate large sales numbers, instead of a steadily growing readership. There are plenty of books I’ve read with huge opening sales numbers — and I’ve never read anything by that author again either because I didn’t like the book or because the author never managed to get anything else done, feeling the pressure.

But there are a lot of competing needs and agendas out there, and we’re not all compatible.

When it comes to finding the right agent or publisher, I often compare it to dating — it’s unlikely you’ll find your soul mate the first time out. You need to meet a lot of people and date around. Finding the soul mate for your work is similar.

There’s no need to dramatize or villainize if something doesn’t work out (although, in the first flush of hurt and disappointment, we will). Happy yippy platitudes too soon to the hurt are counterproductive. But then, take a step back, look at the positives, and apply what you learn moving forward.

As a teacher, that’s the most infuriating aspect. When a student REFUSES to apply a correction moving forward. We all start somewhere. We all have things we need to learn. When something is explained (such as the difference between a possessive and a plural) — learn it. APPLY IT MOVING FORWARD. Don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again and expect someone else to fix it.

The only true failure is REFUSING to learn from something that didn’t work and refusing to apply it moving forward.

Most other situations are disappointments or setbacks that can be overcome.

–Acknowledge

–Create objectivity

–Learn

–Apply

And then go on to create something wonderful!

Published in: on July 23, 2018 at 4:50 am  Comments Off on Mon. July 23, 2018: Dealing with Failure #UpbeatAuthors  
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