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The Art of Handling Rejection

I’ve ran two crowd-funding campaigns, pitched multiple books to publishers, and I’m now on a hunt for an agent. It’s safe to say, at this point of time, I’m immune to rejection. Really – it doesn’t elicit any response from me. In fact, it makes me happy – it’s a relief to encounter rejection. Because rejection is better than silence… and rejection means there’s one less reject in the duration of my quest. But, is there an art in handling rejection?

How does one define art – how does one grade the quality of art? Why are some pieces higher in value, while others are sold cheap in the market place? Why are splats of paint hanging in a gallery, while the strokes of a picturesque countryside are left in an attic? What determines art? Perspective – art is about perspective.

So back to the question: is there an art in handling rejection? Yes – perspective.

I like to look at rejection in the perspective of a job seeker. You see, when you’re looking for a job, you don’t expect a callback from every company you apply to. And for the few that invite you to an interview, there’s no guarantee they’d hire you. Even if you nail the tough questions, you might be rejected. Fortunately, you’re well aware of this. If you’re not, you’ll soon realise it’s reality – you’ll apply, you’ll receive a few calls, and you’ll be rejected. But, you’ll eventually find the one. And in the midst of the hunt – in need of survival – you have no time to think about your rejections. You move quickly to the next opportunity, because an opportunity matters more.

With this perspective, does a rejection really matter? Should you give it more than a second of your day? No, because there’s another opportunity waiting. And if you don’t seize that opportunity, you’ll never know if it’s the one.

Just like art, the art of handling rejection is about perspective. How much weight you give each ‘thanks, but no thanks’ is determined by its importance in your perception. If it is of little significance, you won’t be fazed. If you focus on the opportunities, you won’t linger in the past. So, how are you perceiving rejection? Are you giving it more time than you should? Are you letting it blear your future?

During both my crowd-funding campaigns, I was under 3 months of stress. I hustled everyone I knew. And the more I hustled, the more rejections I received. But despite being upset, I couldn’t dwell on each rejection. In order for The Battle for Oz and The Slave Prince to succeed, I needed to find someone who’d support me. I couldn’t waste time convincing those who wouldn’t, because I hadn’t convinced those who haven’t. Thankfully, despite rejection being a part of my journey, it didn’t change the fact that both my books were a success.

Having experienced waves of rejection, I know its value – it amounts to little when you’re desperate. It has no hold over your passion. And its presence will not affect the outcome. The only thing that rejection does is make you stronger – you’ll be bolder and more determined than before. And despite its negative connotation, experiencing it is a good thing.

Today, I embrace rejection. I’m unafraid of it’s daunting shadow, gladly welcoming it in my life. It has taught me to focus on my passion. It has made my dreams worth chasing. And the more opportunities I seek – the more rejections I face – the closer I’ll be to my goal. That’s my perception – my art… of handling rejection.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Creating Believable Characters

I remember the day I faced reality – the day a reviewer of The Battle for Oz said my characters were two-dimensional and un-relatable. That both Alice and Dorothy were kind of weird, and that neither grew throughout the tale. My first response was, well, defensive. But after thinking it through, I had to agree. You see, I’m no master at creating believable characters. Believe me when I say, character development is my weakest spot. And knowing this, I’ve been trying to improve. But… how?

How does one create three-dimensional characters? How do we make them relatable, and help them grow? How can our characters move readers on an intimate level?

The thing about writing is this: despite the many resources, some things have to be learned through experience. And almost literally, character development is one of those things. Literally. You can read stacks of books, but if you don’t see it – feel it – your characters will remain flat on its pages. What do I mean by that? It’ll be easier to explain by telling you what I did, and am still doing.

Are you ready? Here’s the big reveal: my secret to creating believable characters is… Well, it’s really no secret. It is, however, something we may have overlooked – something so basic – something that is of us. It is… human psychology. Yes, the understanding of the human mind. I’ve come to discover that studying and observing human behaviour is the key to creating believable characters.

I first dived into this study out of curiosity – I wanted to be able to read people for fun. As an individual with a habit of watching others, being able to interpret expressions, gestures, and speech patterns was a bonus. So, I scoured the world wide web. And from what I’ve gathered, I can now spot attraction, notice physical habits, and I’m more aware of my own thoughts and actions. But how do these skills actually help with character building? It starts with the approach.

With this insight, I approach my characters not as their author but as a friend, parent, mentor, sibling, acquaintance, rival, and passerby. I also help my characters approach others via the same state of mind. Simply put, I present characters based on how other characters perceive them. I create an impression through the eyes of others. Because in reality, that’s what we do.

Science says it takes seven seconds for us to judge a person we’re meeting for the first time. We don’t do it on purpose, but we do it anyway. The way a person speaks, stands, and expresses emotion, tells us whether we like them or not. In seven seconds, we either have a foe or an ally. In seven seconds, we either come off as awesome… or not so awesome. Just by knowing this fact, isn’t it interesting to see how your characters fair with each other?

What did Thom think of Seanna on the road to Daysprings? By presenting first impressions, characters have more depth when they prove those impressions right… or wrong. And since they’re defined by another, it is our job to help them prove themselves. Which brings us to our next question: how do we do that without spelling things out? Ironically, readers don’t want to read a character – they want to discover a character. So how do we send readers on an expedition, while providing the exact coordinates to the treasure? The answer is in body language.

I had a fun time writing Trails of the Wind, specifically the scene where the antagonist entered stage. I’d set to fill his character with habits, he himself wasn’t aware of. Right off the bat, he taunted with false guffaws, slow claps, and finger snaps. He smirked when he contradicted himself. And, he rarely failed to announce his arrival either verbally or physically. I’m pretty sure you, with your innate ability to read character, don’t like him already. And just like that, you have a grasp of his personality – not a firm grasp, but a grasp nonetheless. My goal wasn’t to present his personality intrusively, but subtly. And body language is always subtle.

Personally, understanding human behaviour has helped me in creating believable characters. As I observe, discover, and challenge, I see and feel the world differently. And from my experiences, I’m able to translate ideas into depictions. The day you grasps the very nature of us beings, is the day your characters do the same. And guess what, you don’t need a master’s degree. You just need to pay a little more attention to those around you.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Being The Best Writer

Before I begin, I want you to know that you can now grab a paperback copy of The Battle for Oz on Amazon at only $8.33. If you’ve not read my book, here’s a chance to do so at a 50% discount! Buying this book will support my authoring career, allowing me to write more stories for you. So visit HERE to grab your copy today!

So, back to the topic at hand: being the best writer.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can be the best writer, wonder no more. Here are 3 things you can do to be the best writer ever! Trust me, it works.

1. Stop Caring

This is applicable in life as it is in writing. If you want to be the best writer, you have to stop caring about what others think of you. You have to stop entertaining passing judgements. You have to accept, that as a writer, you cannot please everyone. You are you. Seeking the approval of someone who doesn’t like your work simply holds you back from moving forward. And dwelling upon a dislike only makes you self-conscious. This self-consciousness can mold an opinion into truth – which is not the truth. So stop caring about the world’s perception. Perceptions aren’t reality.

2. Find Your Purpose

Why do you write? Do you know that knowing why you write makes you more self-aware? We all have a purpose in life, and we all certainly have a purpose in writing. Knowing our purpose helps us stay true to ourselves. It drives our passion, it reflects our identity, and it reminds us to be us. Whether you write to inspire, to be read, or to share, our writing comes from a meaningful place. These meaningful, purpose-filled words make us unique. And these same words express our uniqueness.

Yes, I believe we’re all special snowflakes. As derogatory as some like to use the term, it’s the truth. There’s no one like you, and knowing who you are makes you a better writer.

3. Endeavour To Improve

If all this while you thought I was writing about being the best writer in the world, let me clarify now: you cannot be the best writer in this world. There’s a sea of writers, honing distinct voices, that it’s impossible to benchmark this skill and talent. So perhaps the better title for this post would be: Being The Best Writer You Can Be. And the only way to be the best writer you can be ever (!) is by endeavouring to improve in your craft.

Writing is a life long journey. When you choose to become a writer – out of passion – you choose to do this for as long as you live. You may not be ‘the best writer you can be’ today, but the more time and effort you put into improving yourself, you will be ‘the best writer you can be’ one day.

“Ah, well Jeyna, I know all this,” you say.

Well, so do I. I’ve said this before in my previous posts. And though I’ve not specifically written a post about it, I’ve repeated myself like a broken record. However, I publish this post today with a single goal: I want to remind, both you and myself, that we can be great writers by staying true to ourselves.

We don’t have to change to fit into a best-seller mold. We don’t need to repurpose our dreams to be accepted by readers. We just have to strive to be the best we can be. And, let’s not just practice this in writing but in life too. Because the only time we experience life at its fullest is when we experience life as ourselves.

(Not-so-random plug; I recently launched my fitness blog over at blogspot. Besides writing, fitness is also a passion of mine. If you’re into it too, I’d love to have you there as well!)

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Making A Comeback

makingacomeback

‘To achieve a success after a retirement or failure.’ – a reliable dictionary I found online.

I am making a comeback. The Slave Prince is making a comeback.

My last publishing success on Inkshares was in January 2015. My last publishing failure on Inkshares was in January 2016. (What a coincidence!) But what is failure, really? Giving up. So that’s why I’m back.

When The Slave Prince didn’t make it to the top 3 in the Sword & Laser Collection Contest, I was disappointed. But I knew, from the get-go, that I wasn’t going to give up on this book. And when the opportunity arose, I would put it out there again.

The opportunity has arrived… in the form of the Geek & Sundry fantasy contest.

The Geek & Sundry contest opens now till November 1st. The top 3 books with the most unique reader pre-orders (a.k.a most reader headcount) will receive a full publishing deal with Inkshares!

Obviously, The Slave Prince is at risk of failing again. But I’m not going to fail, because whatever obstacle stands before me, I will dig under, I will climb over, and if I have to, I will break my way through. (Sounds like I’m giving myself a pep talk, eh?)

I don’t think I’ve said this before, but The Slave Prince is an important book to me… far more important than The Battle for Oz. If I could turn back time, I would’ve funded The Slave Prince first. But alas, I’m no time traveller.

The Slave Prince wasn’t just written for fun, but for me. The Slave Prince, Thom himself, reminds me I can do anything if I believe. The adventure reminds me that perseverance can make the impossible possible. And the premise… the premise reminds me of the power of child-like make-believe. (Why am I tearing up? This is weird.)

Every time I revisit The Slave Prince in my editing rounds, I am reminded to believe in myself and keep contending for the impossible. If it were another book, I’m not too sure if I’d feel the same way. So here I am, hoping you, my dear reader, will stand with me and this book.

I know my book isn’t the best book out there, but I hope the story speaks to you. I also hope… you’ll give me a chance to make this comeback real. You have the power to make a difference in my life, and I’m really counting on you to walk this road with me. Without you, it’ll be a lonely journey. That said, thank you so very much for reading all the way to the end! And please grab a copy on your way out. I would be eternally grateful.

theslaveprincecover2

About the Book

The Slave Prince follows the tale of Thom, a mischievous teenage prince who discovers his lineage in the slave race. When the calling to be the chosen one arises, he relies on the power of a magical dagger to save his people.

Book page: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-slave-prince

First few chapters can be read on the book page. Additional bonus backstory HERE.

*Ps, I’m so close to making the top 3, a little push from you will take me there. A little push might move me up to #1 too! 

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2016 in Others

 

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Write What You Know

writewhatyouknow

Should you or should you not?

‘Write what you know’ is a statement you’ll hear the moment you decide to be a writer. It’s a cliche advice with two camps: the camp that supports it and the camp that doesn’t. There is no unanimity with this notion. Having both pros and cons, it naturally creates opposing beliefs.

Should you write what you know, you save time. You save money. You don’t have to put in as much effort, as when you’re writing what you don’t know. Writing what you know is easier. But writing what you know also puts you in a box. It doesn’t expand your horizons or challenges your ideas. In a way, it makes you complacent. So should you or should you not, write what you know?

Let’s take a step back and look at the statement from a different perspective.

As people with expanding intellect, we have the tendency to complicate things that aren’t meant to be complicated. Simply taking this advice as it is will give us the answer we need.

Write what you know.

You know the sky is blue. You know salt is salty. You know silk is soft. You know birds chirp. You know death is heartbreaking. And you know the joy of reunion.

You also know the sky changes colour as the day progresses. You also know salt makes food less bland. You also know silk clothing is comfortable. You also know a chirping bird can be both annoying and pleasant. You also know life goes on after death. And you also know memories can bring about laughter.

You know a lot, don’t you?

So should you write what you know? Yes. You should.

Writing what you know doesn’t just encompass what you’ve learned in school. In fact, it shouldn’t encompass head knowledge at all. Writing what you know is simply drawing from your experiences as a human being, and giving life to whatever you’re writing.

When I was writing The Battle for Oz, I hadn’t read the original book I was spinning from. I only read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz long after the book was completed. I also didn’t read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland until after I was done reading Oz. Heck… I didn’t even finish Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. However, I still managed to complete The Battle for Oz with the help of Google and what I already know.

With my own life experiences, I was able to create a story without even being a fan of the original works. And that itself, made The Battle for Oz my book. Your book and your story is yours because you’re writing with what you and only you know. No one can write like you, or craft stories like you, because they’re not walking in your shoes or experiencing life as you do. The statement that ‘everyone has a story to tell’ holds true.

At the end of the day, writing what you know is only natural. Writing isn’t grounded in the knowledge of a genre or a specific idea, but writing is grounded in you. Knowing yourself plays a big role in writing. And focusing on putting yourself in your works, instead of merely gathering knowledge, makes a piece all the more believable… and all the more unique.

You don’t have to be the best, most knowledgable writer in the world, to write what you want to write. You can write about anything and everything, as long as you know yourself.

Now… for some Calvin and Hobbes humour.

calvinhobbes

I hope this post answers this question, should you be looking for an answer. But even if it doesn’t, I hope you’ll write with you in mind.

You know a lot. Don’t underestimate yourself.

(Edit: Based on some comments, I’d like to clear a possible misunderstanding: I’m not saying don’t do research and write from solely what you know. Do research. But don’t ever feel like you don’t know enough to embark on any writing journey.)

 
24 Comments

Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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Dealing with Criticism

dealingwcriticism
Not-so-fun fact: No one can escape criticism.

Whether it is constructive, whether it is for our works, or whether it is based on what we believe in, we will always be judged. The question is: how do we deal with it?

Personally, I receive the most criticism in my written work. Freely putting my work out there has invited many opinions, and some of them aren’t very nice. So how do I deal with these not-so-nice words? My approach happens in 3 phases:

#1 Resentment

What do you know about writing? If it’s so easy, go write your own book. The plot sucks? Well, trying plotting your own novel. Wait, you’re not a writer? Ha! Haha! You talk big for someone without experience. Pfft!

I previously blogged in Does Blogging Help? on how blogging has helped me learn from and accept constructive criticism. But receiving criticism on the blogosphere from people who genuinely want to help me is different from receiving criticism from people who don’t.

When The Battle for Oz was published, advance copies were given in exchange for honest reviews, copies were placed in numerous bookstores for anyone to purchase, and free copies were thrown in giveaways. The more copies sold meant the more copies read. The more copies read meant the more reviews given. The more reviews given, the higher the chances of negative words to be written.

My response toward the first few negative reviews was outright resentment. I ranted and vented about them to my family. I posted passive-aggressive Facebook statuses. I went to bed angry. But the more I encountered such reviews, the number I grew toward them.

I’m not saying I’m resentment-free. I still internalise a sarcastic comeback toward said reviews, but I no longer rage over them. I believe it is normal to resent negative words. That’s what makes us human And that doesn’t mean we’re sour grapes. So if you need to deal with criticism with a little resentment, do so.

*Disclaimer: Please do not act on your emotion in a way you would regret. Do not verbally abuse a reviewer, and do not hunt them down and smash a bottle of wine on their head. As someone who is being watched (even by a few people), you want to live a life that inspires. Not a life that sets bad examples.


#2 Reasoning

Maybe you don’t like my book because it’s not what you usually read. Maybe you didn’t know this wasn’t an adult book. Maybe you just don’t get my writing style. Maybe you set too high of an expectation.

The second phase I go through after my ears stop steaming is reasoning. I try to find a reason why someone had something bad to say about my work. This phase is not about justifying the critique, but justifying my work itself. This is where I question whether my work is horrible or decent. And the only reason I reason… is to make myself feel better. But my response toward all the reasoning is crucial.

You see, when you start reasoning with criticism, you start asking the big questions in life: why do you do what you do? Are you good at it? Should you give up? Is this passion worth it?

How you answer these questions determine where you go from there. Your answers will either build a strong foundation in self-faith or torch your dreams to ashes. My own answers have only grown my passion for writing. I am not without self-doubt, but I choose to believe I’m more than a negative review. Reasoning reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing. Reasoning helps me keep the end goal in mind.

#3 Realisation

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a right to an opinion. But I won’t let an opinion change my dreams, and I certainly won’t let an opinion change who I am.

Some days I reach this phase fairly quickly, some days it takes a while. But every time, I will come to realise that opinions do not have the power to tear me down or force me to change. Opinions are opinions, no matter how tactless they are. They are not a command or a law. They have no control over my life.

I can choose how I want to take a criticism. If it’s constructive, I learn from it. If it’s hateful, I use it to drive me toward my goal. I don’t write for the approval of men, I write for me.

Some people will tell you not to read reviews or critiques, because they are discouraging and they stir unwanted emotions. Personally, I encourage you to read and take negative reviews. You’ll learn to tame the monster within, you’ll discover more about yourself and your passion, and you’ll drive yourself to be better. There is always something positive to take out of negative circumstances. And dealing with criticism (not running from criticism) is one of them. When you come to this realisation, nothing can stand in your way.

So, there you have it: the phases I go through to deal with criticism. I’m not sure if this post is of any help, but if there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this, is that you’re not alone. I face criticism – I have my own haters – but I choose not to give up and work toward becoming better. I hope you’ll face criticism the same way too.

Criticism has no power to alter your dreams. Only you have the power to do so.

 
19 Comments

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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No Posts on 21 & 28

Heads up dear reader, there will be no posts today and on the 28th of April. That’s because I’m taking a vacation in the picturesque island of Tasmania! It’ll be a silent two weeks, but I’ll be back 🙂

If you’re missing me already (which I highly doubt) you can use the lack of posts to catch up on The Clubhouse, read already published short stories and fan fictions, or spam me with comments. I’ll also try to be active on Twitter. So if you wanna come along my little trip, you can do so over social media 🙂 I’ll try to tweet pictures daily, as proof I’m still alive and well. That should be fun. Haha! Also, did you know I have an Instagram account?

*Oh and don’t forget to join the Goodreads paperback giveaway of The Battle for Oz! Also, submit your comment HERE to win the e-book version! You only have 4 days left to enter. 

Don’t ask me why this is here. I just thought it fitting. And I don’t even know why.

 

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in Others

 

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