Les Miserables and Your Novel

Six degrees of separation.

Six degrees of separation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Miserable – Very unhappy; wretched – causing distress or discomfort – wretchedly poor. American Heritage Dictionary


For the purpose of this post, lets define “Les miserables” as the person(s) who showers in negativity, gets fueled by it, and is incapable of celebrating other’s good news. Now that we have defined the phrase to suit this post, I will tell you why I decided to write it.  No, the reason is not to vent (well, maybe a little), but to help other artists/writers who might be experiencing (being the target) a dose of it.

I will illustrate with an example of a recent encounter with the type.  If you are an artist/writer/creative you know how sensitive and attached to your work you are – it is inevitable and it comes with the territory.  At one point, you may become your art form, and it may become the air you breathe, your sustenance, your all.  In your excitement, you may want to share the good news, and if you are a writer, maybe even give a signed and dedicated copy of your novel to someone.  Now, that was a nice gesture, wasn’t it?

If the person falls into the les miserables category, be prepared for what will follow – a complete mockery of your gesture, a lack of respect for your art form, a complete disregard of your efforts, therefore ignoring the good news, and even the blunt admission of not intending to read it, followed by the “what’s about, I bet you it is about monsters, haunted houses … and other thoughtless les miserables remarks.” And by now, you must be wondering, and the answer is yes – it happened to me.  In this case, le miserable was not at stranger, and with not many degrees of separation.

Well, and how do you handle such les miserables?  Simply by taking the higher road. This is how to do it.

  • You refrain yourself from chopping any heads, from uttering any #*&^%# words, and proceed to breath deeply.
  • You answer any mocking questions with the professionalism of the author you are – because that is the road you have chosen.
  • You stick to the content of your book, and do not give the story away.  If the person wants to know, then let them go through the trouble of reading; after all, you just gave a signed and dedicated copy to him/her.
  •  Although you  realize that you have “slightly” been disrespected as a creative, and cannot understand why you still have that “deer hit by foglights look” on your face, you manage to politely smile, and charmingly add this sentence – “It was a lot of work, and I am so proud of myself.”
  • Next, you have to admit something to yourself, and I think this is the hardest part, and that is – “Not everyone will be happy about your good news.”
  • Once you admit that and understand that we as humans, are diversely motivated, it will be easy to let it go, and it won’t hurt your creative self as much.
  • Next, you make a mental note – “this person does not get a free copy of any of your future novels.”
  • Followed by, maybe you should consider how often you want to experience negativity and bad vibes, and decide to insert a few degrees of separation between you and that person, so the negativity and “put down” attitude does not affect your creative self.  This is not about holding grudges, this is about understanding that many times, it is better to surround yourself with more uplifting people, and leave les miserables to themselves.  If these are ties that cannot be severed completely (as in family/in laws…), then insert as many degrees of separation as you need to maintain the peace without hurting your creative self.
  • Then, let it out, share your story with one true friend who is uplifting, without engaging in character-bashing, but just exercising a natural gesture of sharing a bad experience.
  • Next, understand that this will not be the only time you will encounter les miserables in your journey.
  • And finally, let it go and don’t make more of it than what it is – no need to hold onto the negative experience – release it, and get ready to keep creating and making your next piece.

Hope that this post helps any of you that might be experiencing a dose of not requested les miserables attitude.  Keep strong, uplift your creative self, and keep creating.  🙂

9 thoughts on “Les Miserables and Your Novel

  1. It happens to everyone. First wave of responses, wen you publicize any of your work is, well, the mocking wave. Apparently it is a trend that has emerged in the new generation. Some call it bullying, some call it trolling and to be fair you can call it whatever you like but it is not a nice feeling to have your work belittled. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? We move on, emerging even better from it all.

  2. I agree, however, it tastes different when it comes from a close personal source, as opposed to the public.

  3. Very quickly I notice whether a person wants to be helpful or hurtful. It is sometimes a fine line, yet discernible. Once I spot it I say to my self, “What a miserable life they must have.”
    I’ve received some pretty snooty rejection letters. One time I wrote back simply, “Is that the best you can do?”

  4. I expect comments like that from sources and critics; however it is when the person is close to you that it stops you in your tracks, and you wonder. It happens.

  5. Oh I am laughing so hard because I think that you misunderstood my comment as directed to you. It wasn’t – it was following the train of thought of the post, meaning that I think it is easier to take the criticism or disregard from outside sources than from your closest friends and family. That was funny, I hope that we are in the same wave now, and you know that I love you commenting here. 🙂

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