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May 14, 2013

Does Good News Make You Worry?

Happy and sad drama masks with text: Does Good News Make You Worry?

Being a writer can often feel like living on a rollercoaster, with huge hills and dips around every curve. Writer’s block, rejections, low sales figures, pirated books, and other bad news can make us feel heavier than gravity itself. We might wish we could sink through the floor and disappear.

On the other hand, good news—plot breakthroughs, contest wins, publishing contracts, great reviews—can make us feel like we’re going to float right out of our body. We live for days like that.

Or do we?

Note to Self: Good News Doesn’t Cause Bad News

I’ve stated before that I’m a Pollyanna kind of person by nature. I don’t focus on the bad stuff. Instead, I tend to look for the good in every situation.

But when good news—and I mean really good news—comes my way, the self-doubt kicks in. I wait for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop. I wait for the bad news that will “even out” the good. What goes up must come down, right?

This worry frustrates me because it keeps me from really enjoying my good news. Too often, when my initial shock at the news wears off, my mood skips the happy, giddy phase and goes straight into the little voice of “it won’t last.”

I wish I could just enjoy good news for what it is. It is good news, not a promise that it will last forever. And yes, there will be bad news at some point in my future. Duh. But one doesn’t cause the other, so I should enjoy the good news while I can—for however long I can.

Self-Doubt Can Prevent Us from Enjoying Good News

I suspect I’m not the only person with this problem. Given the typical self-doubt among writers, there are probably plenty of us who think any good news is a fluke and not to put too much stock into it. That self-doubt can even make us think that bad news is deserved and good news is luck and luck alone.

But bringing ourselves down accomplishes nothing except robbing us of our good mood. It doesn’t “inoculate” us against bad news. It doesn’t make bad news any less bad or less painful to take. Bad news still sucks and always will.

So we shouldn’t not enjoy our good news. Most of us know this already, but logic and emotions aren’t always on speaking terms.

We can’t erase the past for when we stole our good mood away before its time. But maybe we can revive some of those happy vibes by sharing our good news in the comments. Whether you figured out how to fix a sticky plot hole last week or received a great review last month, think about what deserves more recognition in your happiness meter.

My Good News (Note to Self: It’s Not a Fluke)

Here’s the good news that started me on this worry: This past Saturday, I first received word that Treasured Claim finaled in its 6th contest, the Laurie. Yay! Finals are good, right?

A couple of hours later, I received word that one of those six finals turned into a First Place win in the Winter Rose contest. Double yay!

Then an hour after that, I received the score sheets from that final in the Laurie. Three judges. Three perfect scores. *jaw drops and head explodes*

Perfect scores just don’t happen that often in writing contests. Before then, I’d received one perfect score last fall and a second one last month (in that Winter Rose contest I later won).

Now to receive three perfect scores? From all three judges? I must have double-checked those score sheets at least four times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I wasn’t. Those scores were real.

And that much good news in one day was more than my writer brain could handle. Cue the entrance of my denial and self-protection mode.

We Need to Believe in Ourselves and Not Fear Good News

My self-doubt didn’t want to believe what those scores meant. It was easier to think it was a fluke. My self-doubt would rather punish me by taking away my good mood. I even tweeted: “I want to push the pause button before any bad news comes in.” Sure, there was an LOL after that, but the fear was real.

We need to beat back that fear. We need to shut up that self-doubt long enough to enjoy our good news. We need to believe that good news comes not just through luck that will randomly abandon us, but through hard work. And we can hope that hard work will result in more ups than downs on the rollercoaster of our life.

In short, we need to believe in ourselves, our skills, and our ability to make our own luck. Good news isn’t a fluke if we’ve worked for it.

As a side note, I’m calling myself done with entering contests for unpublished authors. I’m still waiting to hear back from a couple of contests I entered last month, but after that, there’s nothing else “contesting” can do for me. I need to get over my self-doubt and accept that this story deserves to be published, some how, some way. *smile*

Has good news ever made you worry? Do you fear that bad news is deserved and good news is simply luck? (And if you’ve overcome this problem, share your advice. *grin*) What’s something good that’s happened to you lately? What can you do to hang on to that happiness or celebrate?

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Angela Quarles

That’s so awesome, Jami!!! You totally deserve this and have worked super hard for it! Woohoo and a squee!

Julie Glover

One word: WOW.

Melinda S. Collins

WOO HOO! Congratulations, Jami!!! So, so happy for you. *BIG hugs* 😀

JW Troemner

Trust me, you’re not alone in your self-doubt and waiting with bated breath for the other shoe to drop. I’ve learned to deal with it by looking at life like the plot of a good story– good news and bad news comes in waves. So while the bad will inevitably follow the good, the good will also inevitably follow the bad. Realizing that, I’d much rather spend my time enjoying the bright side and looking forward to the next ray of sunshine, than dreading the dark.

My good news– I got a rejection recently of a now-shelved story. The good part is that it was a rejection of a full request, and that the agent enjoyed it enough to write thorough and detailed notes on how I can improve. I’m leaving that work on the shelf for a while, but I’m taking her advice to heart with the rest of my stories– and it really is phenomenal advice.

Carradee

Bad things happen.

So do good things.

Now, I’m the type of person who avoids counting chicks before they hatch, but once they hatch? I’m happy. Oh, I’ll tally what could go wrong—as in a case recently wherein I signed with a small press; I have galleys in hand now—but that’s for the purpose of not being taken completely by surprise.

For example: I have a story about to go to press, right? Last time I signed with a (different) small press, I couldn’t get royalty statements or payment even when I asked for them. (Other things happened, too, but it’s effectually behind me.) I could be fretting over things, but… I’m not going to. I have options for if the worst-case scenarios were to happen (and I don’t think they will, because I’ve worked with the company as a proofreader/line editor for a while).

But that awareness of worst-case scenarios is why I will never have all my eggs in one basket. No matter how much I love any one publisher, cover artist, copy editor, client, etc., we’re all fallible. I’m not comfortable depending on any one person for my livelihood.

…Granted, some of that might also be a side effect of, when I tried the day job thing, I was laid off three times in as many years.

Renee Schuls-Jacobson

You are sooooooo deserving of all the good things that come your way. You are so very generous in all that you do.

I.J.Vern

Weeeeee, I’m so glad for you! 😀

When do we get to read?

Hugs with many more successes to come 🙂

Monique Headley
Monique Headley

Congratulations, Jami! That is amazing and much deserved!

Buffy Armstrong

As I was saying over the weekend whilst your head was esploding (sic), congrats. You work hard and you deserve it. 🙂

I try not to wonder when the next bad thing is about to happen. It’s going to happen regardless of whether I’ve received good news or not. The good news just tempers the bad. A tiny bit.

But I’m one of those people that assumes when some compliments me or says something encouraging they are just being nice. It’s like, fifteen people can tell me that I look great in my pink prom dress, but all of that goes away once some jerk tells me I look like the Glenda the Good Witch. It’s easier to accept the bad stuff. Don’t know why. It just is. And then I get to spiral into a pit of self-doubt and fear. Seriously, sometimes I think it would be easier to receive only bad news or criticism.

I don’t have any great way to overcome this, but as I get older I try to weigh all of it, the good and the bad, equally. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

Reetta Raitanen

Congratulations! Your hard work is really paying off. This leap of faith is really just a small step. I want to read the story so bad 🙂

Taurean Watkins

Jami, I had to think long and hard what to reply, and if I sound harsh, know it’s only because I’ve been there and I honestly CARE- Get a grip!!!!!!!!!!! It took me- 10 LONG CRYBABY YEARS TO SELL ONE BOOK! As concerned as I am about not hearing back from my first editor (From a publishing house) for weeks, and as apprehensive as I was before signing with my publisher if I was doing the right thing, I EARNED this chance, and I’m not going to do anything in my power to blow it. You EARNED your contest win, you should be happy, and fully knowing how rough the odds are given how many times you entered the same contest(s), anyone who thinks this was handed to you has never cared about writing like you and I do, or are blind to how tough it really is. You may be done with contests now, but you are FAR braver than I to have done them this long. I only entered one contest, but it was for query letters, because they tear me apart like nothing else in the writing process ever does. They’re scarier than even the meanest one-star review on Amazon, any real writer knows THAT’s saying a lot. But I entered the contest because I NEED this skill, and I was willing to endure harsh feedback if it meant getting better. I know how self-conscious you feel about, but do you know what I’d do to be…  — Read More »

Kim Barton

Congratulations!

I’m one of those people who thinks when good things happen it’s luck, but when bad things happen it’s my fault. Parents tend to do something similar–when our kids do something wonderful it’s because the child is smart or talented, but when they do something awful, it’s our fault because we are terrible parents!

I’ve read that it’s hard-wired in us as humans to pay more attention (or maybe pay stronger attention) to bad things than good. It’s a survival mechanism. When bad things happen, like eating a poisonous plant or getting chased by a lion, we remember it well because it’s to our advantage to remember it. Remembering that poisonous plant may save a life in the future!

Enjoy being recognized for your hard work and effort! You deserve it.

Amy DeLuca

Wonderful news on your contest win (and the eventual one that’s coming- you can’t do much better than perfect scores, right?) ! I agree after several contest finals, one win, and good feedback from judges that the good news can only carry you so far. It’s easy to let that self-doubt creep back in when the dust settles. That’s where that still, small voice that made us believe we were meant to be writers in the first place has to do its work. It sounds like you have all the proof you need that Treasured Claim is destined to be published. Now you just have to keep on searching for those “right eyes” who will make it happen! Congratulations, and thanks for providing such a wonderful, educational blog. I’m a fan.

Kassandra Lamb

Woot!! That’s not good news, that’s great news!! Congrats, Jami, and yes, gal, it is time to get that book published!

This is a very insightful post. You nailed the psychology behind it all and I love that line “logic and emotions aren’t always on speaking terms.”

Haley Whitehall

Congratulations on the contest finals, Jami! I am so excited for you. And yes perfect scores are worth bragging about! I can’t wait to read your debut novel. Your time is coming. You are an excellent writer and you will be published, my friend.

Rinelle Grey

Oh yes. I get this. I’ve been doing really well on a free promotion on my book, and I can’t stop my brain occasionally coming in and warning me that it won’t last, that there’s some other reason everyone is downloading it, they probably won’t like it when they read it, it’s nothing special… I’m sure you get the drift.

Congrats on the perfect scores though, that sounds like something to be really proud of. Given your writing on this blog, and the amount of time and research you put into your writing, I’m not surprised though!

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[…] time, we talked about the fear and self-doubt that causes us to think that bad news is deserved and good news must be a fl…. Any success added to the mix raises the […]

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[…] suffer from self-doubt occasionally, and writers seem to have a penchant for it. Jami Gold ponders how self-doubt can take away the enjoyment of good news, while Gwenda Bond fights the writer’s block of self-doubt with her […]

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[…] Does Good News Make You Worry? by Jami Gold – I suffer from, to much good news means bad news is right around the corner.  Irrational, I know. […]

Serena Yung
Serena Yung

“Here’s the good news that started me on this worry: This past Saturday, I first received word that Treasured Claim finaled in its 6th contest, the Laurie. Yay! Finals are good, right? A couple of hours later, I received word that one of those six finals turned into a First Place win in the Winter Rose contest. Double yay! Then an hour after that, I received the score sheets from that final in the Laurie. Three judges. Three perfect scores. *jaw drops and head explodes* Perfect scores just don’t happen that often in writing contests. Before then, I’d received one perfect score last fall and a second one last month (in that Winter Rose contest I later won). ” Congratulations, Jami, especially for the perfect scores from all three judges! ^^ Hmmm, I don’t know if I have anything useful to say on this topic, lol. Maybe you can accept that bad things will happen sooner or later, but you can focus on how spectacular and wonderful this good thing is—celebrate, talk to some friends about it, keep thinking about it, etc. Telling other people about your good news seems to increase this feeling of happiness, from my experience. So whenever I get an A (or even in the 90s) in my midterms and exams, I would happily shout out this news to my parents, which magnifies my joy in my achievements. I would also tell a few trusted friends (who understand that I’m not boasting–I just want to confide…  — Read More »

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