Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dealing With Negativity

Next up in Negativity Week (which is actually short for How To Remain Positive in the Face of Negativity But That's Too Long of a Blog Title Week, or HTRPITFONBTTLOABTW for short): one of the greatest challenges authors face. Dealing with negativity.

It used to be that the worst negativity an author was subjected to were rejections or, for the fortunately published, bad reviews in newspapers (ha! Remember those? What innocent times we lived in three years ago). Even the toughest of authors struggled to maintain a level head in the face of reviews they felt were unfair. Norman Mailer, so tough his corpse could probably still beat me up, sent a letter to the publisher of the NY Times in 2003 complaining about his bad reviews.

But now in the Internet age, rather than the big dagger in the heart courtesy of the Times Book Review, it's more like a death by a thousand Internet paper cuts. If you are out there with any sort of presence on the Internet you will feel it. People will try and cut you down to size, to get to you, to leave you nasty Amazon reviews, to take out their frustrations on you.

I feel it constantly, every single day, and I'm not even an author.

But I'm not complaining! You know why? Because the cardinal rule of dealing with negativity is: Don't complain about negativity.

No one wants to hear someone complain about how they're being picked on. And the more successful someone is the less people want to hear about how they're being picked on. Who knows why. Human nature. I once saw a pack of pigeons ganging up on one pigeon and pecking him like crazy. I'm guessing the fight started when that pigeon complained about how the other pigeons were a bunch of meanies.

But once you have been picked on: try try try to care as little as possible.

This can be hard to do. It hurts when someone says something truly mean about you, particularly when it contains a grain of truth that has been blown up, distorted, or turned around. Or especially when it's a blatant falsehood, like the time someone said I looked like Chace Crawford only with fetal alcohol syndrome (Um... that's false, right? Please?). But it's so important to see the meanness for what it is: meanness. It's not even about you.

(The word "Whatever," spoken aloud, works wonders as well. So does this video.)

And most importantly: don't respond.

Okay, sometimes it's too tempting to resist responding. But if you are going to respond, there is only one way to do so: with a perfectly clear head.

This takes some self-reflection. It takes asking oneself, do I really have a clear head or am I still ready to throttle this person and dip them slowly into a pool of magma? If it's the latter, your anger will come through in your response and you'll wind up looking shrill or passive-aggressive and not at all how you are intending. If you have a clear head: the perfect comeback will present itself.

The only way to respond is through genuine humor, humility, or selflessness. Not passive-aggression. Truly funny or humble or both. If you can't bring that because you're too upset: then just don't do it. Better to put out a tough front and just not respond at all.

All of this boils down to one thing: negativity is a test of strength. If you show weakness in the face of negativity: you lose. If you show strength and character in the face of negativity: you win.

The Internet smells weakness. Be strong. Be magnanimous. Be virtuous.

And then you'll beat those &*$^@*$ into a &*(^&^$ virtual pulp.






137 comments:

RW said...

Words to live by, though difficult. I would add, when you see the internet poking at someone else's weaknesses, take it all with several grains of salt and remember how easy it was for those people to be negative.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

writers need to grow a thick skin. Not everyone is going to love your works... look what happened to Stephen King's negative remarks about Stephanie Meyers, lol.

ryan field said...

The best post I've read on this, ever. I've had it happen to me several times and you never know when it's going to strike again.

Eating a jar of Nutella helps. It really does :)

PurpleClover said...

You are so stinkin' hilarious sometimes! I love your post! I think I need to keep a copy in my pocket for one of those "non-clearheaded" moments. ;)

Ash D. said...

Wow. Negativity week is AWESOME :D

Word verification - talos = giant man of bronze.


Good to know. :)

clindsay said...

I feel like I should know this already but... who is Chace Crawford?

Loves2Read said...

The mean Chace Crawford comment = FALSE.

You are adorable and the mean commenter is simply jealous.

Nathan Bransford said...

Colleen-

He's on Gossip Girl. Also he's "Nate" on Gossip Girl, which is doubly weird.

clindsay said...

Whoa! You never told me you had a second career! So that's how you afford to live in San Francisco!

Dude, can you email me a Pancho Villa carne asada burrito please? I haz craving.

Anonymous said...

Nathan,
You don't appear to look anything like Chase Crawford with fetal alchohol syndrome. You're much prettier than him.

Lovely post. Way to continue positivity week.

-Alex

Tyler said...

Great post, you really can't let it affect you.

And when you mentioned Chace Crawford I was cracking up, because he was one of my roommates in college. I still can't get over the fact that people actually know who he is, haha.

Erica said...

Thanks for the post. In my journalist job, I try to respond to reader comments, because sometimes they call out points that could use explanation or clarification. But there are times when it takes all my courage to look at the comments -- there's no cushion at all between me and a bunch of people who sometimes seem determined to prove that I am stupid, and there are days when this is really hard to take.

When comments attack rather than raise questions, I try not to engage, but it can sometimes be hard to come by the necessary self-restraint. In those cases, I think about this great Kevin Baker article in the Village Voice (called Bloggers vs. an Author: No One Wins), describing the terrifying results of engaging with random Internet criticism. That article suggests that the author gets drawn into conflict out of loneliness and uncertainty while traveling, and, since reading it, my own rule is to pull back from replying to comments if I'm feeling lonely or tired or already out of sorts in some way.

Carley said...

Great post. Didn't know who Chace Crawford was either, but you definatly don't look like you have fetal alcohol syndrome; you're as normal looking as the rest of us. (that's really not saying much is it?) Thanks again for helping us to remember, "its all like water off a ducks back."

ElanaJ said...

"Negativity is a test of strength." How right you are Mr. Bransford. How right you are. Thanks for the positive vibes!

Erin said...

Great post. And true for life as well as internet comments.

When releasing negativity, I find it helpful to hit something. My mom used to hit a pillow or go hit some tennis balls against the wall at the park. I prefer serving a volleyball as hard as I can against a wall.

And then eat a jar of Nutella. :) Or maybe some dulce de leche ice cream.

joelle said...

This is why I have a "Good book review guarantee policy." If I write about your book on my blog Need To Read, it will be because I love it. If I don't like it, I don't even mention that I read it. Despite your great outlook, there's too much negativity out there. Why add to it?

cheers,
Joelle

Kristy Colley said...

Spanks. I feel warm and tingly, but I think I just need the bathroom...

And appreciate the video. Cheers x

Dearth of Reason said...

You can stop pretending that you're speaking in general terms, Nathan. You and I both know you're talking to ME. I don't know why you always pick on me. You're like the priest in the church I went to once, because a (cute) girl thought it would be fun to bring a Jewish boy to church, and the priest kept talking about that "one hopeless sinner among us" who knew quite well who he was. How did he know about my sinning? Could he tell what I was thinking about that cute girl? And how do you know I break all those commandments every day, and commit a couple of juicy sins to boot, even before I break my fast? Well, that all-knowing thing is getting freaky so cut it out!

wickerman said...

You all realize of course Nathan wrote this post years ago and printed it out to hand on the wall next to his desk. He now reads it every time he is preparing to mass e-mail rejections....



:) I'm kidding of course...



Or AM I?????? 8-)

Anonymous said...

This is a great post to think of the Bush years by. GWB was absolutely beset by negativity, dealt out by a bunch of mean people, in ways unimaginable to those who crumple at the first whiff of meanness sent their own way, and he withstood it manfully.

Marie Ann Bailey said...

Great post! It applies to everyone, not just writers. You know the old adage: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I know it's corny but it is how I try to live my life, especially on the internet where I do have the luxury of previewing my comments and deleting them.

Dara said...

It can be difficult to live by, but something that's important to strive for.

Thanks for the post!

Mira said...

Interesting topic.

The internet brings out sides of people they would NEVER show in person. I'm not innocent of that myself. I'm not always proud of what I've said and done on-line. It's way too easy to hit that 'send' button.

I've studied group dynamics, and I've been taught that it's a part of normal human group bonding to locate a 'scapegoat' within the group. In a healthy group, the group leader helps the 'scapegoat' integrate. The 'scapegoat' is important, because they model for the group the tension between conformity and individualism - something that's always at play in groups.

The problem becomes when the group is unhealthy, or has poor leadership, so it targets the 'scapegoat' and tries to make them leave or worse.

I think it would be really interesting to study internet group dynamics as a psychological phenomenon actually.

Part of why I like that you're addressing this topic, is that the internet has real impact on people. Even though you know the people on line have never met you, their words and actions can still hurt quite deeply.

Eva Gale said...

I'm going to cut you slack because you don't have a teenager, but "Whatever." is NOT the perfect response. Especially when you are reminding said teenager about some Very Important Tests he will be taking and how he should be home at a decent time.

Other than that? Whatever IS the perfect response.*g*

C.L. Coons said...

Thanks for this, Nathan. They are hard to live by, but vital! Great post!

Juliana Stone said...

I love reading your blog Nathan.

That's all I got.

selestial-owg said...

Great post. I hope you don't mind, I quoted you (with proper acknowledgement) on another site that is woefully in need of a reminder to not be so negative with each other (major ugliness lately).

Thank you :D

Word verification: doophas - is that how a doofus spells doofus in an attempt to look smarter? Wait - was that too negative?

Anna Claire said...

We all need to hear this, so thanks Nathan!

And please don't anybody stone me, but this actually reminds me of something that Mike Huckabee (I KNOW, I KNOW!! I voted for Obama, pinkie-swear) said during the presidential nomination race a couple of years ago, that's stuck with me: if people are biting your butt, it means you're out in front (or something to that effect).

Which is so true. In the end, it's better to be famous enough to have people dislike you than to be so obscure that nobody knows (or cares) who you are.

Nathan Bransford said...

Colleen-

Sure thing. I'll try and include a side of the weather we're having!

Natalie said...

This is such a hard concept, one I battle everyday. But working to stay positive has actually helped me become a more positive person. Ignoring the haters is hard, but so effective.

Anonymous said...

Nathan's quote:
"...And most importantly: don't respond..."

I think this is the best piece of advice, ever.

Lupina said...

It's Lord of the Flies out there, so true. Ten years writing opinion columns for a newspaper gave me rhino skin, but even rhinos get owies sometimes. Their horns are in big demand, after all. Your advice to ignore detractors is really, really hard but really, really right. I vote your post an NB Classic!

Elazar said...

What I think is a great example of how to deal with negativity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou2mVnElp6c

Vegas Linda Lou said...

I think it’s okay to respond to negativity on your own blog, though.

Recently someone left several comments on my blog that escalated into personal attacks. I can take it; having done stand-up comedy, I have a high threshold. However, other readers then left comments in my defense that attacked that person. I didn’t want my site to turn into an online Jerry Springer show, so I put up a post saying, “I think of it this way: if I were having a party at my house and one of my guests was loud and obnoxious and making the other guests feel uncomfortable, I'd ask that person to leave. And to please not come back.” The person then deleted all her comments and though I can tell through my stat counter that she’s been back on my site, she hasn’t made any more comments.

Now, in today’s post, I’m the one who’s offending with jokes about dwarves and Tourette’s. (Please, I’m not the first.) Negative comments totally deserved. And yep, I responded.

Anonymous said...

It all comes down to not taking anything personally. Negative or positive. If someone calls you beautiful and someone calls you ugly on the same day, it is just a reflection of their own mood and preference. Other people's opinions are not about you. Mastering the ability to not take personally positive and negative feedback is a part of growing up.

By the way, you don't look normal, you are exceptionally good looking, that's why you get so many comments!:)

clindsay said...

Nathan -

A side of lovely weather would be awesome! Make sure to add the real hot sauce, not the stuff they reserve for gringos. =)

C-

(verification word = hogiven... read one way, that could sound really really dirty. oh, my.)

Kristi said...

I absolutely agree that negativity is a test of strength. I read once that you can either choose to let tough times grind you down or polish you up. A diamond is one of the toughest substances out there and it endured thousands of years of intense heat and pressure to become that sparkling bit of bling on my finger. Go be a diamond!

Kiersten said...

Oh. My. Gosh. Did you laugh your head off over the Chace Crawford comment? Because I know it certainly made my day. See, look at all of the good that very bizarrely mean person did! He brought joy to so many people today.

Alexa said...

Great advice. Negativity week is excellent.

Nathan Bransford said...

kiersten-

Yeah, honestly it makes me crack up every time I think about it. I don't remember the exact comment, but it was way longer and I'm pretty sure it involved Chace Crawford mating with himself or something along those lines. A true original.

Anonymous said...

I agree it pays to have thick skin, and I have never bothered to fight for myself, but I will hold up for anyone else I see being treated unjustly. We never kbow what circumstances or pressures a person is under. We owe it to each other to show that someone out there cares. It is called humanity, and Nathan I feel that you show this all of the time. We will never fix the wrongs in life if we all just close our mouths and turn our heads. I hope if I ever do need it, someone will do so for me. We all can actually make a life changing difference for someone, and although I know a few people who just don't care about the sufferings of others, I never want to be the cause of devastation in anyone's life.

Kathleen said...

"Negativity is a test of strength."

This really is putting it in a nutshell, and something that everyone who truly wants to be published must always remember!

T. Anne said...

Wonderful words of wisdom for anybody on planet earth. Well done Nathan.

Bane of Anubis said...

I'd say your pic reminds me more of Demetri Martin - but probably just cuz of the hair.

mewriter said...

Well I gave an evil cackle at your last line. Does that say something nasty about me? I read an out of context, whiny assumption about me on a blog a while back, and I just took a deep breath and dived in. All great fun but afterwards I thought that's two days I'll never get back.

Kristi said...

Anon @11:55a

I couldn't agree with you more. I ignore any negativity that comes my own way, but am a huge advocate for others who don't have as strong a voice (e.g. children, mentally ill, refugees, etc.) I think it is our responsibility as humans to address that type of negativity in the world. Thanks for a very thoughtful post.

Vancouver Dame said...

Now this post is more like it, Nathan. I liked the link to the Jay-Z video. A little music never hurts, and frequently soothes.

Your advice about keeping cool in the face of 'heat' is an excellent survival tactic, but your final comment in this posting will live on in infamy, or at least in our fantasies.

Thanks for being so eloquent.

Dana said...

No, definitely not a fetal alcohol ridden Chase Crawford. Maybe a touch of Robert Pattinson... minus the creapy vampire make up. :)

Loved the post- though the advice is always hard to take.

Kimber An said...

"So?" is also a good word. Shrugging shoulders is optional while saying it.

Steve Fuller said...

The best way to learn to deal with negativity is through experience. Our critics can be our best friends and greatest teachers, because they will prepare us for life's difficult moments.

Elizabeth said...

So who's got a good example of an author handling this sort of negativity with aplomb?

Rachel said...

Kristi at 12:05

I totally agree with your comment.

On a lighter note, I have to confess my ignorance regarding Chace Crawford. Not only do I have no idea who this guy is, I don't know what Gossip Girl is. Although, I'm assuming it's a tv show.

Elizabeth said...

p.s.
I'm pretty sure it involved Chace Crawford mating with himself or something along those lines. A true original.

You can be proud to be the instigator of creativity even in our adversaries.

camelama said...

My contribution to Negativity Week: "Someone out there thinks you're great"

http://www.zefrank.com/zesblog/archives/2007/12/songs_you_alrea_2.html

Go on. It's a happy link. Cuz someone out there thinks you're great.

Ava Quinn said...

Awesome post, Nathan. Always a good reminder. I've been enjoying the positive spin you've been dealing out. Thanks!

And can I tell you, the Norman Mailer's corpse comment killed me. Fan-freaking-tastic.

ralifasi said...

!

Jade said...

Nathan, thank you for the most terrific post.

This is something every writer needs to print out IN CAPITALS and paste on their wall. It is true and brilliant. As a writer, you will never escape other people's negativity. You are only one piece of paper (or computer screen) away from a soul-destroying comment or review that can totally cancel out all the good things that have happened!

Thank you for this reminder to stay positive, upbeat, and with a full complement of humour.

Sarah said...

I so respect folks to don't respond to negativity. Whether the unpleasantness is warranted (some criticism) or vindictive, you always look smaller if you react.

I think it was a Dilbert comic that said to never argue with a fool. They drag you down to their own level and then beat you with experience.

Great post, Nathan!

Anonymous said...

solling:

sole-ling

soloing

solling it at em

(word verification)

whoops:
now it's:

parendem

pardon my parendem

Marilyn Peake said...

Nathan - Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! Leave it to you to put a positive spin on Negativity Week.

Some of the most important things I’ve learned as a writer since having my first book published six very short years ago are these: Just keep on writing, find a way to get your best work published, take classes if your writing isn’t good enough for publication, and move on to more writing. Another important lesson I learned: If you get ripped off by fraudulent publishing or book promotion businesses, do what you can to get your money back, but then move on! Don’t let the anger or frustration eat you alive because it surely will. Don’t let anything get you down to the point where you can’t go any further in your work, or you will quit and leave a budding writing career in the dust over some thoughtless insult or dishonest rip-off. Internet groups that seem perfectly fine one day will completely disintegrate into all-out SCREAMING MATCHES. (On the Internet, you SCREAM by CAPITALIZING EVERYTHING, and you can even add lots of extra !!!!!! to add emphasis.) I’ve seen writers’ groups completely disintigrate over whether or not authors should be allowed to include information about their books in a tagline under their names, or whether or not everyone’s entitled to health care. I’ve also seen quite a few small publishing houses that seem like Shangri-la one day suddenly disappear from the Internet without a trace, the publishers disappearing without paying their authors money or returning their book rights. In those situations, the authors who usually succeed are the ones who continue to write while trying to get their book rights back, and then get their books republished by another publishing house if and when their rights are returned to them. My advice in a nutshell: Gain traction and forward momentum. It can be very difficult for newbie writers to pick themselves up and move on because they don’t yet have the forward momentum that comes from previous publications in their writing careers, and for that reason it would be wonderful if people refrained from slamming newbie writers. But, as Nathan said, everyone gets a thousand paper cuts on the Internet. It's important to just keep on going. Gain traction. Build the momentum. It can be done. Despite paper cuts, the Internet also offers a bazillion ways to get published and succeed, and another bazillion ways to work with truly wonderful people.

jimnduncan said...

So true, Nathan. Folks want a good example of negativity in action, check out the whole racefail blogging mess. Nothing like a touchy subject (the marginalization of people of color in sf/f) to set off a lovely row of negativity. The thing with most negative responses, is that there is usually some positive spin one can put on it. If people actually put effort into this instead of how inspired their rant can be, the blogosphere would be a much kinder environment to live in. Of course, there are those who like to rant just for the sake of ranting, and others who just take enjoyment in putting others down. It's those folks you have to kindly ignore because they aren't worth your time, effort, or feelings.

JohnO said...

Another fine post, N. In honor of whatever week this is, I tried to make an acronym out of it, because, you know, acronyms take long, hard concepts and pithy them up.

Thus and so, starting with HTRPITFONBTTLOABTW, we get

- Blab Fop Nth Twit Tort
- Barb Loft Nth Twit Pot
- Flab Bop Nth Twit Trot
- Fart Bolt Bop Nth Twit

The heck with it. I'm callin' it Smiley Face Week.

PS - The Oracle of Word Verification agrees, for the word to verify is "ilike."

Lara said...

This blog just gets better and better. Positivity week was a life-saver. I don't want to get all rainbows and kittens about it, but really.

Kristan said...

Solid advice, as usual. I always find it hardest when the paper cuts are given by people you thought were your friends, though...

Anonymous said...

yep.
and reaching out thorugh those last tricky 10,000 words

will you still love me
tomorrow?

bryngreenwood said...

Plus, declining to respond to bad reviews can save you a lot of time. Stalking people on the internet to find out where they live so you can slash their tires--that really eats into your writing time.

Samuel said...

Jeanette Winterson once turned up on reviewer Nicci Gerrard's doorstep, interrupting a dinner party, after Gerrard's, er, critically neglectful review of Art and Lies. Not much dealing with negativity going on down there.

The First Carol said...

If I said, "When all else fails, write them into your next book...and kill them," would anyone see the humor in that. Or am I just entertaining myself?

Marilyn Peake said...

Nathan,

The DOW soared briefly during Positivity Week; it soared again today when you added a positive spin to Negativity week. Coincidence? :)

Jen said...

Another important lesson I learned: If you get ripped off by fraudulent publishing or book promotion businesses, do what you can to get your money back, but then move on! Don’t let the anger or frustration eat you alive because it surely will

Marilyn, you are so right with this. My ex-boss still owes me over $4000 in wages that he refuses to pay me because, you know, he's a total psychopath. I was so peeved for weeks afterwards, but realised that I just have to put in an official complaint about him and let it them do the rest and just let it go. Letting negativity overcome you gets you precisely nowhere.

Nathan, I loved this post because it's so very important. I have a very thick skin when it comes to people dissin' me, but I am definitely guilty of getting involved in those comment wars in the past. I am much better now at just ignoring the trolls, I think!

(But, now all I'm thinking about is a big jar of Nutella. Thanks guys... Not...)

Vord veri - Ticklike. Like ticks, or tickle Ike?

Marilyn Peake said...

Jen,

I wish you all the best with getting your money back, and feel happy for you that you feel ready to move on. I know how painful those types of situations can be.

Martin Willoughby said...

First of all, who's Chase Crawford?

Secondly, I guess I have a lot to learn about dealing with negativity. I have trouble keeping my temper with arrogant drivers who feel they own the road. They should know that I own it.

Anonymous said...

My Mother is just great!
She get on the road and people give her road rage and the finger and she just smiles broadly and waves at them merrily as if she just recognized them!
They feel about 1 inch tall I bet.
She is so classy!

The frustrated drivers all look like they got caught giving the finger to their own mothers!

And it really clears the air with revenge. Much sweeter.

Scott said...

This is a great post to think of the Bush years by. GWB was absolutely beset by negativity, dealt out by a bunch of mean people, in ways unimaginable to those who crumple at the first whiff of meanness sent their own way, and he withstood it manfully.

Too bad he didn't withstand it anally, as well.

And there you have Nathan's advice here in action. Well, almost. :^)

Melissa McInerney said...

So, by 'clear head', can I interpret that to spending an evening with Jack Daniels and firing off erudite and magnanimous responses to haters? If so, I hope I get some criticism.

BTW loved LOVED the clearly confused nightmare dog. Definitely a lab moment

Mira said...

Scott, I didn't like Bush, but I'm not sure I understood that joke.

Could you explain what you meant by that?

Tracy Clark said...

I love your blog Nathan! Really, who can't feel lighter after the dog with the nightmare and a little Jay Z? I'm feeling so damn positive all of a sudden! Thanks!

KLRomo said...

Wow - I must really be a strong, strong person with tremendous character. The negativity has just rolled off my back. I win! Good to know!

Whirlochre said...

In this age of Death By Information, there are more potentially noxious prompts to enrage our inner Own Worst Enemy than there have ever been.

Great post.

Marilyn Peake said...

Darth Vader is pretty much the epitome of negativity. Hilarious positive spin: YouTube video, first episode of "Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager".

Lisa Schroeder said...

Thanks for this, Nathan. It is so hard to do. But I will try, try, TRY not to care. It's not about me, it's not about me, it's not about me. Right? :)

I will flex those try not to care muscles so they get very, VERY strong. And someday, I hope I really don't care.

Litgirl01 said...

Usually the mean, jealous, negative people will hang themselves eventually. I have seen it time and time again. It's better to remain composed and not answer their nasty emails etc. Keep being the good person you are and people will notice. :-)

a story to tell said...

I agree that it's a test of strength and character, just like any event that happens in our life we're unprepared for.

I used to tremble reading aloud in workshops-- now I read, I listen, and I often walk away with a lot of editing to do, because 90% of the time, regardless of how they say it, the readers are right.

lotusgirl said...

Yeah, the big bad internet meanies always wantin' a piece o' U! Dog! Flick 'em off! Dust 'em off!

Holy cow! Your video rubbed off on me. Nobody's gettin' me down.

annerallen said...

Marilyn Peake, thanks for the Chad Vader link. Hilarious. A perfect parable for Dealing with Negativity Week. Next time I meet a mean person online, I'm going to picture him/her in a Chad Vader outfit and start tossing virtual banana peels.

Anonymous said...

I think there are times when it is important to respond to negativity. As you said it should be done with a clear head, and it should also be done with an open mind. We may find out we have indeed erred or there is another POV we should have considered in our rationalization; which may keep us from blundering again. This blog is an excellant example of such an instance.

Anonymous said...

Nathan,
Great post about dealing with the meanies...
here's another piece of advice to add for dealing with negativity (as opposed to constructive criticism)

=(‘)
(___/
^^^^^^^ <--be like one of them when water rolls off….

Jen said...

Marilyn Peake said...
Jen,

I wish you all the best with getting your money back, and feel happy for you that you feel ready to move on. I know how painful those types of situations can be.


Thanks Marilyn. I choose to remain hopeful that I'll get it back eventually, but as it turns out these things take a heck of a lot of time. It's been 4 months so far!

Anonymous said...
My Mother is just great!
She get on the road and people give her road rage and the finger and she just smiles broadly and waves at them merrily as if she just recognized them!


I am SO stealing this move in the future! Thank you, Anonymous Mum!

jil said...

May I adopt you as an uncle?

I feel I already have...

Mercy Loomis said...

You know, if I can turn a flame into a constructive argument, I always consider myself a winner. I had an email-writing group once, and to a story fragment I had submitted one girl broke out in total "this sucks!" rant mode. When I came back with "you can't just say it sucks, you have to tell me WHY it sucks" I got some of the best critiquing I've ever had. She really had some good points, but my story had angered her so she replied with flames and personal attacks, and never got to the meat of what she thought until I asked.

For those who come back with "you just suck" after that, I just smile sweetly, bat my eyelashes, and say "you'll never know, now will you?" Or say "thanks." Ah, confusion to my enemies. It really seems to annoy people if you refuse to be insulted.

I think one also needs to know when to leave a conversation. I was ok with the negativity, but I had a very bad habit of needing to have the last word. Then I worked in an office full of passive-aggressive people who also needed to have the last word. Now I type up a scathing reply, and then I delete it without sending it. All the catharsis, none of the annoying follow-up emails. (Be very sure you hit the X, and not Send by mistake.)

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Thanks

Kristin Laughtin said...

Good grief, this blog gets comments fast. 15 minutes and 90 comments already!

It's very important to remember that, if you absolutely MUST respond (which is a rare situation), it's better to do so once you've cooled down. In the meantime, it's great if you have someone to act as a sounding board and listen to you rant and cry...as long as you don't do it too often, or risk driving them crazy. Equally good for some people is typing up the response you'd like to make in a Word doc, then deleting it. It often helps purge the emotions without risking the damage that could come from responding publicly.

And don't worry, you don't look like Chace Crawford with FAS.

Anonymous said...

i always enjoy your posts. on the "negativity" theme, what blows me away about some wannabe writers: they receive a rejection, and then b*tch about it on their blogs, or, worse yet, start entire Rejection Blogs/Sites/Whatever.

Wouldn't that energy be better spent pursuing another query? Not to mention, I can't think of what agent would want to represent you after your public carping.

mind you, i'm still a wannabe myself, but not carping about the rejections -- many have been helpful!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I just wrote a similar post last night. Die, negativity, die! Or at least fade away into obscurity.

Anonymous said...

But... I wonder if Nathan is referring to the whole queryfail thing that just happened?

We should have ignored the negativity of it and paid no attention?

If that is the reference point, I sort of disagree. :(

Griffin Asher said...

Good advice! When you throw mud at others, not only do you get your hands dirty, you also lose a lot of ground.

Scott said...

Scott, I didn't like Bush, but I'm not sure I understood that joke.

Could you explain what you meant by that?


Mira, feel free to visit my blog and ask again. I know you mean well, but I probably spoke out of turn and don't want Nathan's post to suffer for it.

Anita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
freddie said...

Great post!!

Betty Atkins Dominguez said...

I am so strong it is pitiful! My skin is thicker than a rhino's.
My whatever's, well, you don't need to know that much!

Danette said...

HeeHee! I heart you, Nathan.

Danette

Anonymous said...

A New York Times reporter interviewed me about something I wrote, and an exaggerated article resulted. Over 150 emails were sent to the Times, most of them brutal. The AP wire picked it up, and it was covered internationally. People found my website and emailed (from Brazil, London, Japan, Seychelles, India, …)criticizing my toes, breasts, paintings, writing, and parenting. Some suggested I kill myself, get sterilized, give up the pen and brush, and that my husband leave me. For the most part, I viewed it within a political context, but it was still extremely painful (and scary). Now, when anyone googles me, which I am able to track via my website statistics, page after page of negative comments abound. Prior to the article, I was not a public figure (by any stretch). The internet makes it very easy for people to be cruel. I'm not saying everyone should like me or agree with me. People have the right to hate my art, writing, what I look like or wear, but it is unfortunate that the internet provides a very public and permanent outlet for such opinions. And you're correct that defending one’s self does no good. In fact, this whole rant could even come back and bite me. I was incredibly naïve. I had no idea this could happen. Now when I speak to authors or others in the public eye, I know my experience is not so unique. Another case of- be careful what you wish for.

Sandra Parshall said...

This sort of thing is the reason God made chocolate -- and the reason so many writers are addicted to chocolate. It's amazing how mean and childish people can be toward one another when they can't see each other face to face. And I'm always astonished when a writer who is infinitely more successful than I am complains to *me* about how mistreated and under-appreciated she is.

BarbS. said...

Yep, folks, that really IS how you handle bad reviews. People will respect you for it.

MaLanie said...

Oh but it really, really hurts sometimes! Can't everyone just be friends?

Dannette, I second that. I heart him to. If I weren't married and old. Just kidding Nathan.

pjd said...

yay HTRPITFONBTTLOABTW!

The essence of this post comes down to a quote I heard once about turning the other cheek. Sorry, Nathan--not trying to say you're not original or anything, even though it is negativity week and I feel like I should put you to your own test, so to speak.

Plus, I just gave myself a built-in excuse not to feel neglected if you don't respond to my comment. Sweet. Sometimes I'm so clever I shock myself.

Adam Heine said...

Nathan, this is easily the best advice I've ever read on your blog, and that's saying something.

You wrote: "And the more successful someone is the less people want to hear about how they're being picked on. Who knows why."

This reminds of playing board games with my wife. When she wins, she'll sometimes talk about how hard it was or how it was just luck that she did so or whatever, and those of us who lose get mad at her (in truth, I do the same thing and she's called me on it).

One time I told her the reason was that she won. By telling us how much she was picked on, or by attributing it to luck, it made all the rest of us feel worse about our losses. What we wanted her to do was admit that she was good, that she earned her win, and at the same time be humble about it.

I'd say that's advice for you, Nathan, but you already do that fantastically well.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Wow Nathan, that is one reason why I just love your blog. You seem like such a mature, level-headed person. Especially for one so young! I bet your parents are just outstanding people :-)

Jen said...

For negativity week,the comments page sure is a love fest! I think there were much more negative comments during positivity week. Funny that...

Word Veri - muting. Did you just tell me to shut up?

Lady Glamis said...

Nathan, what a great post! I know that I have seen your advice in action when you have dealt with negativity on your blog. I admire that you handle it so well. Thank you for being a great example!

Stephen Moegling said...

Amen!

Mira said...

Anon 5:16 -

I'm really sorry that happened to you. That sounds just awful, to be so publically attacked like that. We don't burn witches nowadays, but people still find their targets, don't they? I hope things go much better for you in the future. You didn't deserve that - no one does.

Okay, Scott, sure, I'll check out your blog when I have a moment.

Rick Daley said...

F&^$ negativity.

Anonymous said...

thanks Mira. Really.

Heidi the Hick said...

I seriously hope you have kids someday, I mean it. You've got to impart some of this to people other than us bone-headed writers!

Thanks for all these great posts. You may not believe it but it helps.

Writer from Hell said...

WOW.. what a gem Mr.Brown! I'll be reading and re reading this till I understand all that you have said.

You are not only an outstanding writer and poet (your haiku was the best yes'day amongst all the responses some of which I'm sure were from great writers - by great ofcourse means published!! as if...), you are truly wise (how old did u say u were... beats me), kind and generous. such a heart warming person u are.

i thought u were brown
i saw some gray
then this yellow n orange
maybe you are the rainbow
or the white

at ease people.. into the light...

KP said...

Thanks, Nathan. I really needed to get this timely and sage advice this week. Funny enough, the writing is going fine - it's the day job that's full of negativity. Am trying to live the motto 'Never complain, never explain' but damn is it hard sometimes.

Next time the boss starts bullying me, I will remind myself it could be worse - someone could be saying I look like Chase Crawford only with fetal alcohol syndrome. :)

Writer from Hell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cat said...

>someone said I looked like Chace Crawford only with fetal alcohol syndrome (Um... that's false, right? Please?)<

As a mother of two kids with FAS (the generic term is called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders or FASD for short) I can assure you that you do not look a a bit like someone affected.

Also I think that the guy you mentioned (I had never heard of him before) looks like a starved Ken from the Barbie Universe and that somehow isn't even close to what you look like.

Great post, by the way.
Cat

Teri said...

Good words of advice. Nathan, where do you get all this wisdom for such a young man?

terri said...

I am up at 6 in the blessed AM here in the midwest waiting for movers . . .

As the lawyer representing our family company in an intellectual property lawsuit, I have had to grow double-rhino skin with sprinkles.

I just dish it back, with a double heaping of caselaw on top and have won every point so far, despite having had fake bar complaints filed against me and an opponent that uses phrases like 'frivolous reasoning that is breathtakingly bankrupt in legal acumen . . .'

The best revenge against negativity is (and always has been) success, so go for it.

I can't resist,

verification word: 'fanileak'

You were warned . . .

Anonymous said...

midwest here, morning too.
my word is :
exovack.


(to add to potty word verifications)

pjd said...

Nathan, where do you get all this wisdom for such a young man?

Rumor has it that he outsources his wisdom to a call center in Bangalore.

a story to tell said...

Didn't know if you'd seen this already, but Rachel Gardner posted a helpful blog on coping with negativity and a lack of thick skin.

http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/03/are-you-thick-skinned.html

Just seemed to compliment your post. :)

April Hollands said...

Nathan, thank you: your negativity post was actually quite positive and motivational! I'm much preferring this negativity week over last week.

kdrausin said...

How much do I love your blog.....this much! (Picture me with my arms wide open!) Being strong and not responding until you are calm is good advice for life, as well as writing.

Tawny Taylor said...

Excellent post and great advice.

IMO, negativity can be an opportunity, depending upon the situation. For example, I have personally watched authors get roasted on a popular blog and then merrily take the resulting enormous royalty checks to the bank.

Having seen both good outcomes and bad, I would *strongly* advise authors to avoid responding to negative bloggers/reviewers. It tends to work better for them if they can resist the temptation.

a story to tell said...

*head/desk* that's Rachelle Gardner...

Julie Poplawski said...

Fabulous, and a theme that seems monumental this week. Many blogs are about how to deal with criticism or manage your headspace, maybe it's the full moon!?

Anonymous said...

PJD,

Nathan became wise at young age because he listens and weighs everyones opinions. Plus he is just plain ole smart.

WitLiz Today said...

I think what helps me to temper my reactions to unpleasantness, whether I'm on the internet or I'm having a confrontation in person, is that I hear pain in the words of the person losing their cool. Real deep pain. Yes, there's anger, but that anger is wrapped up in unresolved pain, imho.

So, I guess I look beyond the adultness of the person and see an abused child needing to be listened to, and not yelled at; needing positive feedback, and not more abuse, and certainly needing our patience in the teaching of boundaries. But perhaps most importantly, they need our forgiveness for when they get out of line.

That forgiveness can come in the form of us doing one or all of the above when the opportunity arises. On the internet that opportunity occurs, oh, I'd say, every 5 minutes for a blogging agent, writer or author.

So, I'd entreat those of you faced with this kind of abuse, to volunteer your services; in effect, to sacrifice yourself on the altar of ego, and not respond in kind.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

To Anonymous 5:16:

A harrowing tale - I am reminded of Yoko Ono's entire post-Lennon experience (paraphrase):

"Those hate vibes were really strong, like love. Hate was keeping me alive."

Don't know if that makes sense to you or not. But one of the things I love about Yoko Ono is, she's just fearlessly "weird," and "bad," and "experimental," and she encourages other people to make art, whatever art, any kind of art, by her own example. I think one of the reviewers at amazon.com said, sometimes they can't stand to listen to Ono's music - and other times, it's the only thing they want to listen to.

You mention writing and painting in your post, and most people being "brutal" in response to the NYT article...looks like you hit a nerve, or crossed some imaginary line - bravo for you as an artist! Just keep writing and making art, and feel confident there are people who feel about your work the way I feel about Yoko Ono's - even if we aren't pouring in letters to the NYT, and coming up in Google searches. Your fan base is out there!

Nixy Valentine said...

Reminds me of a cartoon I saw... a man is typing furiously and his wife asks him if he's coming to bed. He said.. "Can't come now! Someone is WRONG on the internet!"

The net is full of crazy people who can contact us with a click of the button and without having to wait a breath before they can send it, much less take the time to go buy a stamp. I think stamps protected us from a lot of goofy shit.

It's hard not to care, yes, but Nathan's advice really is the best. I've learned the hard way that you can never win getting involved in net heat! Never ever!

Word verification: hydriest
Really?

TERI REES WANG said...

Act like a "Duck"..and not a "Sponge".

austere said...

Thank you.

cram me.

aye.

Nona said...

I've always thought that you looked like Luke Wilson's twin brother. Wait, Luke Wilson's brother is Owen Wilson. Oh, okay, in that case you could be triplets.

giddymomof6 said...

Nathan,

You amaze me. I think your mamma definitely raised you right. I've never seen anyone handle the junk some of your readers throw at you with as much class as you do. I am simply floored by some of their responses.

The funny thing is though, we all read the extra mean ones and just shake our heads. When you respond with such open kindness--it just makes them look like the jerks, anyway.

I'm glad you posted on this topic. You are an amazing motivational writer--a talent all of us are so grateful you were blessed with! Thanks for sharing your positive energy and vibes with us as much as you do. I know it must get emotionally draining--especially dealing with all of these comments and your queries and ALL the submissions and everything else you do--just know that we are all sincerely grateful. Even if there are a few that are a bit jealous and mean spirited--they're still just as addicted to you as the rest of us are! LOL! They can't help but come back for more. Jenni

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