I've gotten quite a few emails over the post I did on how the YA Mafia (whether real or fictitious) feeds on fear an insecurity. Most of these emails ask one question:
How do you stay so calm?
The short answer--I don't.
Truth is, there are a lot of things that bother me, worry me, or otherwise throw off my groove. And between you and me, I hate having my groove thrown off. I hate sitting down to write and being so excited about a story, and then seeing a passive-aggressive jab from a "friend" on Twitter and feeling like crap for the rest of the day.
But you know what? Those things happen. And they're going to continue happening. Because that's life for you.
Of course, those things--albeit few and far between--used to bother me a whole lot more than they do now. I guess I can attribute a portion of my mellowing out to age and experience, but honestly, much of it came from adopting a mantra:
Someone wants to have nothing to do with you because you prefer CSI: Miami and she believes CSI: New York is by far the superior crime procedural?
An employer doesn't want to hire you because her husband's cousin's sister dated your half-brother and doesn't want anything to do with either of you?
An old writing friend stops talking to you because you were offered representation before she was, even though she has an MFA and you didn't even graduate high school?
(And believe it or not, those are all real reasons why people have rejected me in the past. Even the one about CSI: Miami).
I know the f--- 'em mantra probably sounds rude, maybe even a tad bit arrogant. But really, who would want to be involved with anyone so petty as the people I've described above? Why enter into a relationship--be it work-related, romantic, a critique partner, or a friend--where the default setting is always set to Walking on Eggshells? I mean, who cares what they can do for your career, think about what they're doing to your psyche.
I spent most of my childhood being bullied for who I am, what I like, the people I befriend, and the things I want to do. I grew up a scared, timid, insecure, miserable, self-loathing child. It's taken me years to find my backbone and put it to good use. So believe me when I say, there isn't anyone or anything in the publishing industry I covet enough to entice me to live that way again. No agent. No house. No award or list. No amount of money. Nothing.
So I guess that's where the calm comes from--knowing who I am and that it's OK to be that way, and understanding that if someone rejects me for me, I'm better off without them.