I’m really lucky to have with me today my friend and fellow author Mary Kennedy. Mary is a national best-selling author, and a clinical psychologist in private practice on the east coast. She has sold forty novels, all to major New York publishers, and has made the Waldenbooks, BookScan and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. Her early novels included middle grade fiction and young adult fiction for Scholastic and Penguin.
Mary is currently writing an adult mystery series, The Talk Radio Mysteries, which is set in a fictional town in south Florida. The first title, DEAD AIR, will be released in January, 2010, and the second, REEL MURDER, in June, 2010. The Talk Radio Mysteries was pitched and sold as “Frasier Meets Murder She Wrote.” The heroine is Maggie Walsh, a psychologist who closes up her Manhattan practice and heads to sunny Florida to take a job as a radio talk show host. And, yes, she solves a murder in every book!
Please join me in welcoming Mary and I hope you enjoy this very inspirational blog about resiliency!
When the Going Gets Tough
“When the going gets tough, the tough keep going.” This is the Cliff Notes version of a concept known as “resiliency,” the ability to bounce back fast from adversity. As a practicing psychologist, I try to build resiliency in my clients, helping them to withstand the stresses and disappointments of daily life. All of us possess resiliency, but how much? A lot depends on genetics, learned behavior patterns, personality traits and life experience. I’ve seen patients make a remarkable recovery from traumatic events; the death of a spouse, chronic illness of a child, even financial ruin. And I’ve seen other patients in tears over a bad haircut or a thoughtless remark by a relative.
Why is resiliency so important for writers? Because rejection is part of the game. Like all artists, writers put themselves on the line every time they send out a manuscript, leaving themselves open to judgment from editors and agents. So much of our identity is wrapped up in “being a writer,” that rejections are brutal, and go to the heart of who we are.
How can you build resiliency? I’d recommend four simple steps. Let’s take the example of an editor rejecting your manuscript.
First, take a cold hard look at the situation and determine if your first impression is accurate. Artists tend to “catastrophize,” meaning they put the worst possible spin on a situation. Does the editor really dislike the manuscript as a whole, or can you tweak it a little and resubmit it? Re-read her comments when you’re feeling calm and reflective. Panic can lead to cloudy thinking.
Second, ask a close friend for feedback. It’s always good to at least consider a situation through another set of eyes. Since your friend is less emotionally invested in the outcome, she may have a totally different–and more realistic–impression than you do.
Third, try to reframe the situation. Yes, the editor may not like this particular manuscript, for whatever reason. It may have nothing to do with your talent, or the quality of your work. It may be she’s just bought a book with the same theme or that the market is flooded with similar books. Let’s try reframing the situation in a more positive light. She’s not interested in acquiring this particular manuscript at this time. But is it realistic to say she never wants to see anything else from you? Ever? This is known as “depressive” thinking, or looking at something in a negative light. Reframe the situation and you realize that you can submit other projects to her, down the road.
Finally, immediately take action to seek a solution. Ruminating and drowning in negative thoughts will not help. Taking action will. List three things you can do–today–to get back on track. You can polish up another proposal, start something new or spend two hours in a bookstore, checking out the new releases. All these are positive steps you can take. Action leads to power, and a sense of control, which makes for a happier outlook. You will find that you are more resilient than you thought!
For more information on Mary, please visit www.marykennedy.net
DEAD AIR (Penguin, January 5, 2010)
The first of the Talk Radio Mysteries.
“Frasier meets Murder She Wrote” in this entertaining new series by a real-life psychologist.”