Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Perspective on winning and losing streaks

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us  and visit other bloggers participating. 
What I’m Reading: I just finished The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick and loved it! It's a bringing together of four unlikely friends, in a superstition vs. science play through the fabric of space and time. Any book that can playfully toss around words like discombobulated along with serious scientific terms makes me happy down to my toes. I've also recently read the best-selling The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker, because I can't resist mythical creatures and, AND! BONUS! it's historical fantasy, my absolute favorite genre. Transplant a Syrian Jinni and a Polish golem (a female golem, no less) in 1890's New York City and watch their very different natures clash with each other and the cultures around them.  I just started reading a digital ARC of Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts. It's an intense beginning of the end of everything. 
What I’m Writing: I'm changing the ending to my Star Tripped (YA SF) manuscript after having one of those wonderful inspirations  wherein I discovered how much more character I could develop AND how much twistier I could make the ending. 
What Else I’ve Been Up To:  I'm still catching up with all the wonderful posts and videos from last week's WriteOnCon.  I did submit my query (which still needs work) and first 250 words to the forums and got some excellent feedback, and just as helpful was reading and giving feedback on other queries. You guys, there are some seriously amazing premises out there! On the one hand I'm intimidated, especially because there were so many YA science fiction queries (competition!) but on the other hand, the ideas were so good, I want them to get published so I can read them.

I learned a TON from watching kidlit agents Suzie Townsend and Kathleen Ortiz give their instant feedback on a huge variety of twitter pitches (twitches, a new writerly word!). It was fascinating to see their facial expressions as they listened to/read the pitch for the first time and then to hear their comments (mostly they would agree; sometimes they didn't!). Great insight into what's hot and what's not in the current YA market, and what ideas really spark them individually, as well. 

My 18 year old stepdaughter also listened to a few of the pitches with me, and it was interesting how she was intrigued by the New Adult pitches, and "so over" the YA pitches. 

What’s Inspiring Me Now:  Elana Johnson's recent post Winning Streak or Losing Streak. From her post, quoting a professional development speaker: 

... he said it only takes two (TWO) events to get on a streak, either winning or losing. Two successes to feel confident... to feel like we know what we're doing... two successes to think, "Hey, I might be good at this." 
... then he said that it only takes two disappointments or failures to be on a losing streak. Two failed tests. Two instances where a student couldn't perform what they were asked to. And this is the dangerous spiral. When you're on a losing streak, you want to give up. You criticize yourself mercilessly. You have no confidence and no motivation to keep trying. Not only do we start to think, "I can't do this," we continue that thought to "I can't do this, because I'm not good at it." 

Why I find this inspiring is that if you recognize what two disappointments can do to you (with writing it could be rejections, or a harsh critique, but this could apply to your day job too, or school, or relationships), you can fight the temptation to give in. You can recognize them for what they are: a form of progress, part of the learning curve, and not a sign that you are "no good" or "not meant for this." You can also learn to recognize small successes (like a new idea that makes your story much stronger) and start tying them together into a winning streak of your own. 

What are you learning this week? 


  1. Interesting insights on the idea of 'streaks' and how we perceive them.

    (Also how trend-sensitive traditional publishing is. I already guessed that, but this confirms it yet again.)

  2. I missed the Suzie Townsend live event but I heard how much other people learned from it too. I had a lot of fun commenting in the forums, though it was quite a distraction from my own writing (and beta reading--which I need to finish for a friend).

  3. I got to see bits and pieces of the Suzie/Kathleen event and it was so informative. I wish there were more videos out there like that to watch. How cool is that that your stepdaughter weighed in with her opinion too! It's like a built-in audience.

    Have a great week :)

  4. I am trying to learn to let go of things I can't control -- a constant struggle for me! I also learned a great deal from Elana's post. Thank you for sharing it!

    I'm excited for you regarding the revision of the end of your WiP. "Twistier" is always a good thing!

  5. I love that speech! I have been very tempted to give in, but I just can't. And thank goodness. I like writing too much! And I didn't get around to many posts in the forums, but what I read at writeoncon were full of awesome!

    Good luck with the writing this week!

  6. Write On Con is awesome! I didn't have any kid lit this year, so I sat out. I'm glad you got to participate, and I know what you mean about those premises. Sometimes I sit there and say "Why didn't I think of that?"

  7. I'm trying to look at rejections as an opportunity to learn and get better, and not as losing streaks. It's tough sometimes, though - and that's where wine and chocolate come in handy!

  8. Thanks for sharing your insight from WriteOnCon! I wan't able to attend, because it fell at a bad time for me, so it was interesting to hear your thoughts and tidbits of advice from the conference. Maybe next year! More character development and a twistier ending sounds awesome. Good luck with changing your ending!

  9. I was away for most of Write On Con and haven't caught up yet. My life will be a little more manageable next week, I think. Thanks for sharing your insights. You've given me things to look forward to.

  10. I love this, Margo-- 2 wins or 2 setbacks and how they impact you. It is so interesting. Because on paper I would say, "two rejections is NOTHING! That's low! That's great." But I also recognize that FEELING two rejections is very disheartening. I will keep this in mind-- and it will keep inspiring me.
    Have a great writing week!

  11. I pre-ordered a copy of TUMBLE & FALL, and I'm nervous about reading it because it has a very similar premise to the story I'm currently writing. (I only found out about T&F after I started writing this. Shoot!) I suppose it can be a comp title when I query? We'll see. That's awesome that you came up with a twistier ending for your story! I love when you have those moments of clarity that you just know will make your story better. I didn't get around to WOC this year, but it sounds like a lot of people took away great things from it. That Winning and Losing Streak snippet was really interesting! A lot to think about there for sure. Have a great week, Margo! :D



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