Friday, March 14, 2008

Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?

Maven Jacqueline BarbourBefore I wax eloquent on the topic at hand, we wanted to take a moment to let you know about a very cool contest--who doesn't like free books?--taking place today over on Barbara Vey's Beyond Her Book blog over on Publishers Weekly. Her blog is a wonderful resource for both writers and readers of the romance genre, and we very much want to support her efforts there. And if you stop by and post your comments, there might even be something in it for you! I know I'll definitely be dropping in.

So, I've been thinking a lot over the past couple of weeks about whether I'm an optimist or a pessimist. I always used to think of myself as an optimist. I have a fairly sunny disposition, I don't get angry or depressed easily (though I'm at least as neurotic as any other writer I know!), and I generally think of the world as a good and friendly place (although the existence of brussel sprouts and thong underwear has been known to make me wonder on occasion).

But lately, I've come to realize there's a lot to be said for pessimism. Oh, not the down-in-the-dumps, the-world-is-out-to-get-me variety. I'm talking about the "if I don't have any expectations, I can't be disappointed" variety.

I've always approached submitting queries, manuscripts, and contest entries with this philosophy. I don't expect anything but a rejection. I don't expect to final or win. This means that when I am rejected, I don't feel particularly upset or hurt; after all, it was what I expected. Conversely, when a submission meets with something other than rejection, I'm delighted.

This attitude has served me well, up until a couple of weeks ago, when several things happened all at once. First, I received an honorable mention in the Bookends 100 words contest in the erotica category, which I have to admit was pretty cool. But second, I received a request for more information from an editor to whom I'd sent a manuscript. I emailed the requested information and then waited--impatiently--for the offer that seemed, finally, to be within reach.

Of course, I haven't gotten said offer or anything close to it. I haven't gotten a rejection, either, mind you, so it's not over. Buuuuut, I realized I had allowed myself to be a little TOO optimistic. And it made me COMPLETELY crazy. Checking my email every five minutes. Lying awake at night, tossing and turning, etc. And it didn't help that the people I told were all equally excited for me and kept asking me, "Have you heard anything? Have you heard anything?" Their enthusiasm and excitement touch me more than I can say, but I do think the fact that they seemed to think I should hear something within days (not weeks or months) fed into my expectation that the answer would come quickly.

So, I've managed to pull myself back to my more sanity-inducing pessimism. It hasn't improved my patience any (patience may be a virtue, but I am not virtuous!), but it has allowed me to be more philosophical.

YOUR TURN: Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Or just a realist?

9 comments:

Keira Soleore said...

Jackie, a positive outlook just makes life a happy place to be. I'm learning how to do so, in ssssslow baby steps.

Marnee Jo said...

I am an optimist and an extrovert, most of the time. I think that a positive outlook is contagious. And I'm a firm believer in fake it til you make it too. :)

Erica Ridley said...

I think I'm overall a positive, optimistic person. Like anyone, I have my moments of weakness, but in general... Mary Sunshine.

/kicks machete back out of sight

lacey kaye said...

Sunny sunny sunny!

The sun is always shining behind a dark cloud. Don't forget to wear your SPF 40 or above, regardless of how the outlook appears. There's always something brighter just beyond the rain...

Bill Clark said...

Sounds like Maven Lacey is speaking for the upper Northwest... :-)

Darcy Burke said...

I've been known to talk a good pessimist talk, but don't let that fool you. I'm hopelessly, pathetically, eternally optimistic. Definitely seeing the glass more half full as I age. And kids will do that to you, I think. My son hates feeling sad. He'll cry and say, "Make me feel happy again." One of my favorite things to do. :-)

CM said...

I am an optimist, but I am also paranoid.

That goes something like this:

"Everyone is out to get me today, but I bet they won't be tomorrow!"

Cara said...

I'm a pessimistic optimist (or should that be "optimistic pessimist?" "Optipesstitist?") Hope for the best, prepare for the worst -- that way, if the good happens, great! If the bad happens, well, at least I'm not surprised.

I live in Florida. Hopefully no hurricanes this year, but I still put that survival kit together every May anyway.

Jackie Barbosa said...

Cara, I think you finally explained what I meant. I hope for the best but I prepare for (maybe even anticipate) the worst. Where's the fun in the good stuff if you knew for sure it was going to happen all along?

I do think I'm an optimist overall. It's just in this one little area that I like to inject a little pessimism to maintain my sanity.

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