Making disappointment your greatest weapon
Today we will announce the long lists for our 2021 Children's Novel and Picture Book Awards.
Most of you will be disappointed when you read this.
Trust me, I have read hundreds of competitions posts with long lists and faced that same disappointment.
Sometimes I hide it and pretend I didn't really care (I did).
Sometimes I say it doesn't matter if you list or not, as so many successful writers don't (it did matter).
Sometimes I am openly disappointed. And this, my friends, is when I am able to finally use the experience of not listing to my advantage.
Being human, heck being a writer, is not about suppressing emotions. It's the opposite. Cold and clinical might serve you well in some aspects of life, but it doesn't when it comes to writing.
Open, vulnerable, exposed, raw and true emotions are the most powerful thing in the world. More powerful than the President of the US or China, or any other superpower.
In fact, for me, there's only one thing more powerful than even those emotions.
And that's your words.
The words you use in your stories that represent those emotions, that ellicit that feeling in a reader. Those are more powerful than a light saber, a magic wand or an infinity stone.
But getting your words, your story to a point of eliciting those powerful emotions in a reader is not easy or light work. It requires a great draw from the writer into their own emotional pools, which are almost exclusively filled from their own past experiences, memories and responses.
In short, writing a character that will connect on a deeply emotional level with your reader, requires that writer to have experienced something similar. There is a lack of authenticity in that moment in the story when they haven't and, as a reader, it's often apparent to me.
Disappointment also serves as a powerful motivator.
'I'll show those WriteMentor readers! They were wrong, my book is a masterpiece and I'll prove it!'
'What do they know anyway? I'm going to send this out to agents and get it published. Then I can send one of those tweets about how I never listed and still got published. Ha!'
We've all thought it before - maybe even a few of you have done exactly this after disappointment or rejection! I know I've thought it, too, if I'm being honest.
And many of you will think these exact things today.
Good, I say. Use that powerful emotion - it might drive you for a few days or a few weeks. All the better. And if you can, write down how the disappointment makes you feel, internally and externally. Where do your thoughts go.
Then use this in your work - find a moment where your character is disappointed or gutted or let down by something they had real hope for, and then mine the authenticity of your own experience.
Use that disappointment, and spin it around, and make it a weapon to your own advantage.
Writing can be lonely, but it doesn't need to be,
May the Force be with you!