Something new is happening in my life. I must tell you, it's getting weirder and stranger and more beautiful in a bizarre kind of way. I have to pinch myself, to make sure I'm not macerating or pullulating or gemmating or...can you tell I read too much Stanisław Lem lately? Yeah, all this amorphous gluttonous Solaris vocabulary has stuck in my mind, and here I have derailed from the main topic of this important blog post.
How to take it? And why am I blogging about it? And why is it important?
I suppose I'm getting to some new professional stage or something. Like, people are starting to quote me. You know how weird it is to stumble on your own words on the shiny Internets? It feels weird to me. And I started getting a steady stream of interviews, here and there. I suppose winning Amtrak Residency and hanging out on stage with darling Amanda Palmer only added to this.
More and more people tell me that they love my work.
You would think, What's wrong with that? That's awesome! What are you complaining about? Well, I'm not complaining, not exactly, I'm simply telling you something that I have heard from many artists, and what I'm experiencing right now.
IT'S FUCKING HARD TO TAKE PRAISE.
IT IS VERY VERY VERY HARD.
IF I SAY IT IN BIGGER LETTERS, WILL YOU BELIEVE ME?
Now, here is why this blog post important (and it's something I'm learning only now). When people praise you, they want to give you a gift of love. When you reject this gift, they get offended. Why didn't you want to take their gift? Was it not good enough? You're not making them happy by rejecting it. It's what I used to do. When someone told me that they loved my book, I'd say, Oh no, it can't be any good. My writing is bad. And then I'd see the person sulk away, and not understand what I said or did wrong. Guess what happened.
People got upset when I stopped their praise with my harsh response.
Some time has passed, and I have started watching lots of big established writers on stage and giving interviews on TV and such, in preparation for my own appearances, and I've noticed something.
Whenever anyone told a writer, Your work is so amazing, it's blowing trembling bursts of delight right out of my eyes and I pee a little! You know what the response always was?
A smile, and then, THANK YOU.
You write fucking better than... (insert a name of a famous writer)!!!
You're so amazing, I will tattoo your words on my ass!
I tried it, cringing at first, because I still don't think very highly of my work, and the more I did it, the more I felt how happy people were, people who wanted to give me this gift of love.
I stopped rejecting it.
It's an amazing feeling, to be able to really listen to people and to let them give. They want to give. They want you to take it. I will borrow a quote from Amanda Palmer's book (which you all should read) The Art of Asking:
TAKE THE FUCKING DONUT.
So, the whole long drawn-out moral of this post is, take the fucking donut. Take the praise. Take it with grace. Thank people. Smile. Learn how to receive love, and people will want to give you more and more and more. You know why? Because you receive it well. For this, you have to learn to love yourself, to feel like you deserve it. And you do. I'm telling you.
You deserve love.
Take the praise.
You will make people happy. Don't cringe or belittle your work or shrink. Don't be awkward. Look people straight in the eye and thank them. This is an important lesson for writers. We are not very social by definition. We like to hide out in our caves and not be bothered. But we do get out to book readings and such, and this receiving skill is very important. Receive with grace.
There. Go practice in front of the mirror. Look at yourself and practice smiling and saying, Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.
So, for reading this blog post, thank you. For reading my books, thank you. I love you. Onward.