The Importance of Attitude

“Watch your attitude!”

When I was a sassy teenager many years ago, those three words from one of my parents always brought me up short, made me stop whatever I was intending to say and swallow words that would surely get me into trouble if I spoke them. They were a direct warning that I was on the wrong track and needed to make a change in my thinking. I did.

I remembered those warnings this week when I received an email from a writer I know. He had been asked to read a manuscript written by a friend’s daughter — a romance novel that had been rejected by a publisher. Her family was apparently upset that their child’s first venture into the publishing world had been rejected.

The manuscript was, according to my writer friend, full of grammatical, tense-shifting and spelling mistakes. His thinking was that if one doesn’t know or pay attention to the difference between “your” and “you’re” and “their” and “they are,” the writer is in trouble. When he pointed this out to the young lady author in an email, her reply was, “You may not know this, but that’s what editors are for.” My friend countered that editors are presented with an enormous number of manuscripts and they don’t have time to read error-laden ones.

Evidently the young lady knew little about the world of publishing and seemingly wasn’t inclined to find out. She could have learned that many publishing firms employ recent college grads as readers to separate unsuitable submisions from those to be passed along to an editor for evaluation. An error-ridden manuscript might get a very short reading, maybe less than one page. The young lady also could have learned that writers get used to rejections because all of us, published and unpublished, get them. We deal with them and move on.

Perhaps if the young romance writer were willing to change her attitude and seek help, she might move closer to publication in the future. Romance Writers of America, for instance, has scores of chapters around the country and members routinely help new writers in workshops, with critiques, and suggestions to make their works-in-progress publishable. In time, with a little help, the young writer might learn to take pride in having her name on an error-free manuscript.

Blogs are another great source of help. A world of writing information is out there, ours for the taking. We can learn a great deal from other writers, no matter what our status. And anyone can gain valuable writing help by reading writing magazines or checking out writing books from the public library.

Sometimes all it takes is a change in attitude to move us ahead.

Please leave a comment
© 2008 by Laverne Daley

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