Monday, August 20, 2012

Burning Bridges Clouds Your Path by Susie Sheehey

Susie Sheehey is president of Greater Ft Worth Writers, in her second term. She writes women's contemporary and romance and has completed two novels in the past year, and just started another one. She lives with her husband and rowdy 3-year-old son who loves to push her buttons. She had several long and educational years of sales experience in the healthcare field. As a former springboard diver, she's been glued to the television the last week for the 2012 Olympics in London.

The smoke from the fire you create with your words will always cloud your future. One way or another. And who wants to walk through the world blind, choking on smoke?
I recently read a blog post from a literary agent (whom I respect and follow regularly) that disturbed me. He had attended a few conferences where he'd overheard several writers bashing him and/or his agency in one way or another. Combined with a few other factors, he decided to close his agency to new submissions until further notice.
I think this is a bit of an overreaction, but at the very least it;s extremely disappointing to hear writers doing this. Granted, publishing is subjective and everyone has his/her opinion. Every agent works differently and won't get along perfectly with every writer (and vice versa). Not everyone is bound to agree all the time. It's just the nature of the business. Heck, that's human nature.
But even if you have a disagreement with an agent or editor, you at least need to be civil in parting ways and (more importantly) how you carry yourself in the future. This includes what you say on social media sites, and what comments you make to others. AKA- gossiping. Either in personal or digitally. It's so high school, and even when I was in high school, I hated it. So adults should definitely not partake.
Remember the phrase: 
"Be mindful of the toes you step on today for they may be attached to the ass you must kiss tomorrow."
Trust me- this will happen. It may take a week, a year, or ten years. But it will eventually happen. Be honest with yourself: don't you remember something hateful someone said to you when you were in high school? Middle school? College? Your first internship? And don't you agree the next time you see them you'd have those comments in the back of your mind?
If you're in complete denial with the statements above, at the very least you should be mindful of the golden rule you should have learned in kindergarten:
"Treat others the way you would like to be treated."
I remember the first Author Workshop I attended several years ago where the author spent the first half-hour bashing her former publisher, cover artist, editor and everyone under the sun having anything to do with her novel. And my take-away from that workshop: I won't buy any of her books.
Not because she turned me off to the publisher or disliked the premise of her novels, but her bashing gave me a horrible impression of her. I refused to support someone who was so negative and had no care with the words she chose.
Yes, we live in the United States where the First Amendment is upheld at all costs. You can say whatever you want to anyone at anytime; that's your right. But karma's a bitch, people. 
These are just my thoughts on how you create relationships, professional or personal. 'Keeping silent when you have nothing nice to say' is easier said than done. But I always remember that I don't want to have smoke covering my path going forward. 
Follow Susie on her blog at
Follow her on @susieQwriter or Facebook


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Earl Staggs said...

An excellent essay, Susie, and I great reminder not to let little things - and little people - cloud our lives.

Ruby Johnson said...

You are so right that we need to temper our negative comments particularly in social situations and in written speech. In today's politically correct climate, there's always someone you can offend. Speech is not really free anymore except in the saftey of your home.

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