Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Dealing with disappointment

We all know feeling. We enter a competition but find we haven’t even made the long-list. We send off our novel, that baby we think is perfect, only to receive a thanks but no thanks letter. Dreams shattered, hopes crushed. How do you deal with it?

I’ve been putting some thought into this lately (for those who’ve been regular readers -yes, my chapters fell off the charts 24 hours before the professional reviews were given out. I know I said it wouldn’t matter, but I’m human. It hurt.). I’ve come up with a few alternatives for getting over that stomach crunching whack of disappointment. In no particular order –

1. Get drunk. I don’t advocate this. I’ve only ever been close to drunk once and it was an experience I never want to repeat. How can people purposely put themselves in the position of not knowing which way is up? No. A glass of red to lift the spirits maybe, but not drunk.

2. Throw things. A good option if you’re made of money, but things have a habit of breaking when you throw them. This was Dynamo’s favourite tension reliever when he was little. If I put him in his room for some misdemeanour, he’d throw a toy or two across the room, damaging the wall and/or the tossed toy. One day I told him that I would take away any toy he threw for three days. As I shut the door, I heard him say “You’ll have to take my whole room!” Then he went berserk, throwing anything he could lay his hands on. I let him throw until he’d slowed down a little. Then I walked in with a garbage bag and cleared his room of every toy except his cuddly bedtime dog. He didn’t do that again. But when I think of throwing something I always remind myself of that occasion and ask myself if I really want to act like a three-year-old?

3. Write a really rude letter to the person/people who handed you the disappointment. Tell them exactly what you think of them. A great stress reliever, as long as it’s never sent to the addressee. The best idea is to write it, then tear it into little tiny pieces or set it alight and watch it burn. Of course, this is a waste of paper and not environmentally sound, but it does help!

4. Take it out on those around you. Yes, if you want to make your life even more miserable, this is a great option. Spouses ( or should that be spice?) and children just love to be yelled at for something they had absolutely nothing to do with.

5. Go for a looooooooooooooooooooooong walk. This is the option I took on Saturday (yes, I finally got some exercise). I didn’t set off intending to go for a long walk, but as I went I realised I was beginning to feel a whole lot better, so I just kept going. I saw parts of the farm I haven’t seen for years, stamped out all that frustration and disappointment and came home with a sore knee to keep my mind off other things.

So, what can you add to the list?


Brenda said...

Eating Chocolate...the only thing this hurts is my waist size, but it makes me feel soooo much better...

Chewing (Chomping) Gum...when I get upset at work and can't yell at people, I chew gum. I can be chomping away, cracking my gum and get all the "arghs" out without saying a word

Lilfix (blueboards)

Angela said...

Read some of your older work, and rejoice in how far you've come. Read comments from readers who really liked your work, or read an inspirational book for writers that details the journey of an author you enjoy to see the ups and downs that they had to navigate to succeed.

Oh and I'm with Brenda--CHOCOLATE never hurts!

Luc2 said...

I second the chocolate suggestion.

Also, read some of the "cheerleader crits" you received. Sometimes it's a great confidence booster.

Carrie Harris said...

I think about how they'll feel when they see my book in the stores. In my dreams, they're absolutely crushed. Of course, the reality probably won't be like that, but it makes me feel good. :)

Kate said...

Ah, chocolate! How did I forget chocolate? I think going for the long walk probably did me more good (despite the sore knee), but yes, chocolate would have done it.

Carrie - keep believing. One day your dreams will come true. When they do, tell me how you did it?

C.R. Evers said...

I think any form of excercize is one of the best things to do. It's a stress reliever, and it always helps me feel more positive and ready to take on a challenge. I do have some bad "comfort" vices that I can fall into, like eatting, sulking, playing games on facebook, but exercize is my favorite and most productive way to deal with disappointment.


Kate said...

Sulking and computer games - I'd forgotten those too, though sulking isn't any fun when the person you're sulking at isn't there and I play far too many computer games anyway!

Angela said...

Review your acceptances!!

One of my crit partners (www.thewritemarbles.com) makes covers for her WIPs they keep her focused on the end result. (Love that idea.)

I also have two paintings on my wall that motivate me to write -write so a hyper ten-year-old who has just downed a gallon of caffinated beverage wants only to sit still, read, and get to the next page....and when I get a rejection I do ask myself is it good enough? Is it time to stop -re-revise & make it better.