Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beyond Compare

Do you find yourself comparing your successes or lack thereof to those of other people?  Whether you're an executive wondering why the co-worker in the next cube got the promotion instead of you, a mom who wishes her kids would be as well-behaved as her neighbor's, anyone wondering if he's keeping up with the Joneses, or a Gainfully Unemployed who wants to know how Actor A books so many jobs or Author A sells so many books but you don't, appreciating and valuing your own accomplishments can be a challenge.  Even on Thanksgiving.

When I read about another author's sales, it's hard not to wonder when I'll see my name in Publisher's Lunch.  Especially when it's someone I know or finaled in a contest with.  I'm happy for them on the one hand, but on the other wish my turn would come.  It doesn't help when a multi-published, award-winning author I critique for calls to say what I gift I have for making her books so much better and that she can't understand why I still haven't sold. (One of my mss is with one of her editors on her recommendation, fingers crossed.) When I hear how many acting jobs a friend has gotten recently, it's hard not to compare her list against mine and wonder how I can get more work.  Or when, as has happened quite often recently, I see people I once performed with on national TV or Broadway, it can be a challenge not to ask, "Why them?"  To not worry about what else I should be doing, or doing differently.

Comparing yourself to others minimizes your accomplishments.  It can make you feel defeated. You might stop believing in yourself and give up, especially without any external validation. One reason I enter writing contests is because finalling provides a shot in the arm to help me keep going. The weeks between the announcement of the finalists and the winners provide lots of time to share the good news. It's rewarding to know more than one judge liked your entry and that an industry professional will soon be reading it for the final round and may ask to see more.

Christina Dodd gave a speech at a Romance Writers of America conference about how each author's path to publication was different.  Some might be short (ie you sell your first ms to the first editor you send it to.  I know a couple of people who managed this.) while others will be long and rocky (you complete many mss and have hundreds of rejections to your name.  Sound familiar?).  Others will sell one book or a few, then have trouble selling more.  The question is: do you have the stamina to keep walking?

Can you focus on gratitude for your accomplishments?

Articles about ways to stop comparing yourself to others:


Adversity University

Zen Habits

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Holidays?

I've written before about being a Grinch at this time of me there's far too much fuss made over the holidays.  Stores go straight from touting Halloween candy and costumes to pushing Christmas decorations, cards and gifts.  By mid-November, lights and decorations are already on display in many places.  You can't pick up a paper, turn on the TV or go online without being bombarded by holiday ads, articles or programming.  What is the purpose of so many people spending so much time planning, shopping, preparing for and then cleaning up after holiday we really enjoy all the hustle and bustle or feel obligated to participate?

Holiday preparation adds myriad errands and time-sucking tasks to to do lists that are already a mile long.  How do friends who are already overburdened running around on their kids' behalf and who rarely seem to have a moment to themselves fit in even more?  The effects of our recession-burdened economy may add additional pressure to those who can't afford to givethe amount or kind of presents bestowed in years past. 

It's not that I'm not looking forward to or don't enjoy attending holiday parties--as long as I don't have to host them.  It's the cramming of so many social events into a few weeks, plus the crowds in stores and all the hype and, unless you never leave your house or expose yourself to any media, the constant displays of Christmas-y stuff.  

Not only that, this season can be tough on the Gainfully Unemployed.  Business in the acting and publishing worlds grinds to a halt.  Which means hardly any auditions or jobs, and very little chance of long-outstanding submissions being read.  Full-time employees bask in the joy of paid days off, but
the GU know holidays just mean the phone won't ring.  When you don't know where or when your next paycheck is coming from, it can be hard to relax.  

So what do you like about the holidays?  What do they mean to you?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Change, Change, Change...

Technology advances mean the world is changing at an ever-increasing pace.  Five years ago, who'd have thought social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, having an online presence via a Web site and blog would be so important to so many, suck up so much  time and be in the news so often?  Who'd have thought many would send thousands of texts a month, text instead of talking, and that we'd go to a restaurant and see more people focusing on their phones than on their friends?

Newspapers and magazines are disappearing from our front doors and mailboxes and landing on our PC screens.  E-readers like the Kindle, combined with the closing of so many brick and mortar book stores and decreased shelf space for books in other stores that now host cafes and have broadened their product offerings, make it more challenging to wander into a store and discover a new author.

Somehow we survived in the days before answering machines, much less cell phones that we put on the table when we're having lunch lest we miss something.  The rapid pace of digital technology enhancements requires many of us to adapt, willingly or not... or miss out on opportunities.

The pace of the acting industry seems to be ever faster.  A couple of weeks ago I turned off my phone for an hour and fifteen minutes...and lost a booking.  This week I was sent an audition that had to be recorded at home and submitted ASAP.  I've booked several rush jobs recently...a call at 5:30 pm for a job the next morning, a call at 12:20 pm for a job at 9 that night.  Yes, the clients had chosen my voice for their projects.  But given the short turnaround time, who knows what might have happened if I wasn't immediately available to accept the work.

And developments in the writing world, such as Harlequin's newly announced e-publishing division, Carina Press, raise myriad questions about the future of publishing, book pricing and author compensation. 

I have not yet broached e-reading beyond downloading a couple of books.  To me reading online-- when I spend so many hours on the computer already--isn't as enjoyable as holding a book in my hands.  I only like shopping online for books when I know what I'm looking for; all the scrolling makes me dizzy.  I don't have the patience to "look inside" a bunch of books online the way I've done in a store. 

How are you embracing change? 

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

A few months ago I discussed various types of lies and wondered whether you can or should trust a liar again, here. Given the recent movie release, The Invention of Lying and the FOX TV show Lie to Me, many others are also considering the impact of lies and dealing with liars.

The proof is in the pudding. And my answer is no. Recent evidence shows that where there’s one lie, there are very likely more, either already articulated or yet to come. Kind of like cockroaches. At least the nasty insects scatter and hide when you shine light on them...but you know they’re there, multiplying and waiting ‘til the time is right to come out again. Lies are like termites, because by the time you discover how far they go, the damage is done.

Whether the liar is a client who promises to pay but doesn’t, a cheating significant other, someone you hired who pads his bill or doesn’t do what he was paid to do, a post on Craiglist you think is legitimate but leads you to some scam, or a friend or family member whose mendacity makes your life more difficult, how do you handle it once the dam has been broken, once your trust has been breached? Maybe you think that person is dead to you and never speak to him again. Maybe you think, "He says he's really sorry. I'll give him another chance." Good luck. That saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," exists for a reason.

If you’ve been lied to, how do you trust again: 1) others, because surely everyone you meet isn't a liar 2) yourself and your decision making ability? If you choose to keep the liar in your life, how do you relax day to day and not worry that everything that person tells you is a lie?

This brings to mind the old ad campaign, "Do you know where your package is?" The answer is: you don't, unless you can be with it and keep your eye on it 24/7.

Several articles about liars and dealing with them: Liars get what they want. They avoid punishment, and they win others' affection. Calmly state what you know to be true.

wikiHow: To protect your own sanity, seek help.

eHow: Disassociate yourself from that person before you get hurt.

Personal Web Guide: Be careful who you let your guard down with.