Tuesday, 15 January 2019

How To Avoid Rejection Blues - a guest post by Ruchi Singh

So someone has said no to your idea or story. A story, which you thought was very unique, a story which has been written painstakingly and lovingly, but the other person thinks it’s not worth anything. It shakes your confidence. It makes you second-guess everything you decide to take on. 
Being rejected does rankle!
But before delving deeper into the Blues let’s understand what is ‘Rejection’. 
Rejection, the word is pretty negative. It actually is. It means that someone doesn’t attach any importance to something which is very dear to your heart. It can be your choice, your emotions, your idea, or your story…
According to the Oxford dictionary, Rejection has two simple definitions;
1) The dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc.
2) The action of spurning a person's affections.
The two definitions are addressing two different spheres of life, but in the case of a writer, the pain is almost the same for both :) 
There are various ways or levels of rejections. There would be a no response rejection. Agents, editors will not respond to your ideas. There will be no answering correspondence whatsoever on your query. The second one is simple; ‘your story does not fit into our production schedule’ or ‘we have a similar idea at our desk’. This one is the best. It tells you something about how the wind is blowing and you can fine-tune your own story or approach someone else. The third would be a negative or critical rejection which either says ‘rejected’ or is a feedback on the submission. No matter how polite it is worded this type of rejection will always cause pain. Let it. Accept that it will pull you down for a few hours, a few days… but no more. Go on the writing desk again and improve.
Being rejected does hurt! Yes, it does. 
And it’ll hurt every time. But, yes there is a but, its up to you to what degree you allow it to impact yourself. And there are ways to deal with it. We’ll be able to deal with it better if we understand the factors or reason behind it. Let’s dissect them one by one;
  • Understand that the idea is rejected not you as a person. The idea can be refined and rewritten, or another idea will click. Take rejection feedback as an opportunity to improve your manuscript.
  • Sometimes when an agent or publisher says ‘no’. It may not be a rejection of the idea, it might mean ‘no… not right now’. The market plays a very important role in getting the idea accepted.
  • Remember you might have pitched to a wrong person or the organization. Or maybe the agent or the editor is upset about something and has read your story at the wrong time. Believe me, moods or office politics do factor in while taking a decision.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the agent or the editor. Till the time they say ‘no’, they are safe, there is no risk involved. The moment they say ‘yes’ they are an equal owner of your unique idea and now the commercial aspect comes into the picture. So essentially if they are saying ‘no, it is not necessarily to your idea but it’s as per their risk-taking ability.
  • Every person gets rejected at least once in their lifetime. So it’s nothing new. I know it may sound harsh, but that’s a fact. JK Rowling got rejected by 12 publishing houses. Ashwin Sanghi, I heard him say, got rejected more than 40 times. I got rejected every time I had pitched my story to anyone. And from the reviews that my books get I have realized I am a good storyteller but a lousy idea seller. Yes your ability to sell the idea all plays an important role.
Being rejected does suck! Yes, it does, but don’t take it to your heart. We shouldn’t give up on our ideas just because someone else doesn’t see our vision. Stay on course and you might surprise everyone and yourself.
All the very best!
Ruchi Singh

About the Book
The Man
Security expert Nikhil Mahajan is in mortal danger. Gravely injured and unable to see, he is in the midst of hostile strangers in an unknown place. Any hope of survival is fast fading away. 

The Angel
Should an innocent man be allowed to die just because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Someone has to intervene.

About the Author
Winner of TOI WriteIndia Season 1, Ruchi Singh is a novelist, and writes in two genres; romance and romantic thriller. A voracious reader, she loves everything—from classics to memoirs to editorials to chick-lit, but her favourite genre is ‘romantic thriller’. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Seven ways to a new beginning

drawing of words, new beginnings, 2019, hand drawing
Recently I wondered why people perceive time to go by faster. I mean clocks do not tick more swiftly, and the International standard for time, the second, is still the same. As an engineer, this puzzled me, and the answer I found is not a good one. It all has to do with our brains and the way we learn and challenge ourselves.
You can read more about that here, but this concerned me a bit when I sat down to figure out how I was going to structure my 'new life' after working for a boss for ten (plus) years.
Sure, I had been down this road before, but in my thirties. Now I am a decade older, and keeping the grey matter healthy is not just about time flying past anymore. I need to be on top of my game, and I want to be there for a long time to come.
So here are 7 things I found that are going to help me and my brain:
1. Set up a routine for more than work. People who are self-employed, especially at the start of their new venture into the business world, often overlook one crucial detail, their own wellbeing. Yes, the new business will take a considerable chunk out of your day, your week, and your life, but if you do not look out for number one, that business is going to become your nightmare, instead of the dream you wanted.
2. Put non-work reminders in your calendar too. The life of self-employment allows for one significant aspect of your life that other people don't have: control of your time. While many would argue that time is not within our control (if it was we would all schedule at least another two days every week), but what we do with our 24 hours is within our control. So schedule your kids' activities into your calendar, book that appointment for that back massage you desperately need and do that coffee with the friend you haven't seen in months. These non-work things will not only contribute to your own wellbeing, but they will make a difference in your relationships too.
3. Schedule alone time at least once a week. Looking at the world around us, one can safely assume that people are afraid of being on their own. The noise that bombards not only our ears every day, is frightening. Everywhere you go people have their eyes on their phones or tablets, and for those of us who don't, it is an obstacle course navigating the pavements or malls to avoid those people. So why alone time? Give your mind some rest too, will you? Give yourself a moment, or six, to just be a human being for a change instead of a social-media-selfie-addict-with-narcissistic-bluescreen-radiation-wave-patterns all over your face. You might actually meet someone interesting when your mind has a chance to reflect on itself.
4. Make an appointment with your future self. Business is built on risk-taking, but it is not a hit-and-miss situation. Companies plan for the future. They consider changes in the market, the expectations of their customers, and how they can stay ahead of the competition. It is called survival. Without future planning, a company is doomed to failure. The same goes for your life and your goals. While your dreams may change as you grow older, or you start to tick them off your bucket list, you need to spend some time to assess where your life is going. Is bungee jumping off that high bridge in a foreign country still something you want to do? People often regret the things they haven't done, but I think many people also regret the things they had continued to do because they let time go by. It is not just about big things like career changes, or relationships. Sometimes you only need to take a small step to put your goals back on track.
5. Don't put off your dreams to some future date. It will never happen! The oldest excuse if ever there was one: one day I am going to... All I can say, yeah right. Unless you are doing it right now, only you will believe that fairy tale. Make time to pursue that dream: write a book, take an art class, or learn the guitar. Life is too short to put things off until later.
6. Challenge your brain, learn something new. That time flying past thing mentioned earlier can only be counteracted if your brain is learning, and being challenged. Do not confuse learning with academic studies. Learn to play chess, or paint portraits, or do Sudoku puzzle competitions. Challenge those brain cells and time will no longer be a waste of days flying past without notice.
7. Be kind to yourself. While time is not going to wait for anyone, sometimes we need to give ourselves a bit more. Todo lists are notorious things. They are often the fabric of nightmares because you have the habit of making a long list, and at the end of the day nothing got done. It can be demotivating, to say the least. As a species, we tend to be overly optimistic and then have the habit of kicking our own selves because of it. So, pick one, maybe two things for your todo list today. And when you made them happen, pat yourself on the back. If not, take a moment to reflect why not. Procrastination is often the actual reason, but if it is not, then relax. You probably did two other things.

hand lettering, todo list words, colour drawing with brush pens
Self-employed people are often seen as living the dream, although it is not an easy life. But if the effort you put in, does not forsake the important things in life, then your life will be one of fulfilment, satisfaction, and contentment.
Sounds about perfect to me, and I will be working hard to get my own routine adjusted to suit my new beginnings.
Until next time!

💟 Linzé

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Stories, almost everywhere

The past few days we spent with family in the Kruger National Park. Here are a few pictures telling some of the stories of this trip.

A selfie of the two of us standing on the Tropic of Capricorn. The grinning windblown fool is me. 😁
fuel station, Haenertsburg, mountain fresh fuel sign

Mountain fresh fuel (on our way back home) - don't rightly know where they brew this stuff. 😉

Shingwedzi camp in Kruger. Francois is watching two squirrels chase each other up and down the trees.
car display outside temperature at 14h40

If the gates of hell had a temperature, we would gladly have believed it. It was not fun at all! 😓
  If only people thought a bit before putting up signs. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. (Nobody is an actual place in the Limpopo province)

Sunday, 23 December 2018

My non-successes of 2018, and the lessons I learned (I hope)

Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash
This year has been eventful that is for sure, and as these things go, not everything works out as planned. Although I am disappointed in myself on not achieving the exercise and the weight-loss goals I set for myself, it has not been without some success on both counts.
I did exercise more than what I have done in recent years, but my goal remains to have my GP tell me that my blood pressure medication is no longer required. There has been a significant improvement already, but I am still expected to take the meds. Continuous improvement is now the target for 2019.
Losing weight was not one of my primary goals, but I still had some lost kilos in mind. Again that didn't happen as planned, and that too will be on the continuous improvement path for 2019.
So what did I learn from these two non-successes?
I wish I could tell you that I found the answer and it will be an easy path from now on. I can, however, not say that. Being overweight (health is my first concern, not how much I weigh) is a difficult thing to manage when some factors are working against me. These factors are not outside of my control, so the lack of goal achievement cannot be blamed on anyone except yours truly.
So here is what I learned:
1. Having a work environment that is not good for one's mental well-being is not conducive for other aspects of one's wellbeing either. It took me a while to realise this, and mostly because the effects were more subconscious than I thought. This is mostly a problem that manifests itself in my eating habits, and not good habits either!
2. Not all exercise is right for you. For many months I religiously followed a program with a personal training company, but eventually, I stopped going. I have a back problem and living with more pain with the exercise sessions than without it, made no sense to me. Yes, exercise is good for me, and there were some benefits, but I don't like living with pain if I can avoid it.
What I am doing for my new plan of continuous improvement on these aspects:
1. I have resigned from the job in that unhealthy environment and decided to go back to self-employment. It is hard work, I know, but even now I am, and as a result, my mental well-being is already improving. This week I am stuck at home because we are having work done at our house, and I find the constraint on my ability to come and go as I please frustrating. The frustration is temporary, and even with the limitation on my movements, I find that I can still do more and be more creative than what I have been in months. I think it is too soon to say what effect it will have on my eating habits, but now I am more hopeful that things are working better already.
2. It is the time of year that makes changes difficult because Francois will also be home and we have family obligations that make my decisions on how I want to spend my time more challenging. I am working on finding a way to incorporate exercise into my daily routine that will not put so much strain on my back. Tai chi does the trick for my back problem, so now I need to get the routine going once more...after the holidays I think it would present a better chance for success. But I am not waiting until then, but it will remain a struggle until the New Year.
The next year will bring its own challenges for me, but I have faith that these will be stimulating, exciting, and above all things that will work toward my primary goal in life: become the best version of me.
So now all that remains, before I sign off for 2018, is to wish you an indescribably blessed and peaceful Christmas, and a New Year filled with fulfilled dreams, and immeasurable successes.
Until 2019, be kind to yourself!

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Ends, beginnings, and some crazy mixed in-between!

You know when you tell people that life is crazy busy and then deep inside you wished it was because you were busy doing something significant, and then wasn't? Well, I am going to tell you that my life was crazy busy the weeks since I last talked to you. Here is how things went and then you can decide if I was just making excuses, or doing something worthwhile:
  • I challenged NaNoWriMo - and won again. You might think that I usually do, and you would be right. Except at 8 days in, I heard about a course I wanted to do, and it started on the 25th of November. Suddenly my NaNoWriMo had shortened to 50k in 24 days! It wasn't easy, but I managed.

  • Come the 25th, the course - Modern Stoicism - kicked-off and now I had new things to learn, different meditations to do, and a daily self-assessment to do on top of that! It is now the start of week 3, and I think that NaNoWriMo was easier. I do hope, however, that as an aspirant Stoic, the choice had been a good one and I will benefit from the course's teachings.
  • While I usually post on Sundays, I missed last weekend because my gorgeous husband of almost 25 years, thought it best to surprise me with a weekend away for my birthday. The 'official' celebration of my birthday is 1 December, but this year I feel like it has been my birthday for months! Francois has been spoiling me with all kinds of lovely things, and last weekend being the cherry on the cake. I hate surprises, and he knows that, so I wasn't quite ready to be happy about it. Until it happened. It was really something special to celebrate my 50th birthday in Dullstroom and with two friends too. Only three days ago did I find out this 'surprise weekend' had been in the making for almost 6 months - Francois showed me the Whatsapp group that plotted my surprise. Thanks, love, it was an absolute weekend to remember!

Francois and me (photo taken by Phenice Rothman)
  • And no, it doesn't end there. I handed in my resignation this past Tuesday. On the day I had lunch with a few colleagues and other friends, for another celebration of my birthday. (One only gets to be 50 once after all!) If you had been following the news, you would know that several State Owned Enterprises in this country have severe financial difficulties for various reasons, including corruption. I work for one of those companies and have been for a bit over 10 years. Your first thought might be that it is the state of the company that made me hand in my notice, but to be honest, it was merely the last straw. I was self-employed before joining the company, and it had always been my plan to go back to working for myself. While it hadn't been my plan to wait 10 years (time does fly, doesn't it?), I do believe that God had a better plan for me, and in August I knew it was time to get ready to make the change. If I hadn't been such a coward (fear is a horrible thing, but I have to tell you it is still there despite my faith in my new future), I wouldn't have waited four months. But now it is the future that matters, not the past.
For my lovely readers: yes, I will continue to write. In fact, my next book is due out in January, so watch this space.
For my colleagues, past and present: I am back in the engineering game and looking forward to working with you once again.
Crazy life? I am looking forward to all what the future holds for me!
Until next time!
💜 Linzé