The Pollyanna Game
Have you ever seen the movie “Pollyanna?” If you’re my age (late 20’s) or older, my guess is that you have. But if you’re much younger than me, I’m guessing that you probably haven’t. If you happened to miss out on this movie, the basic gist of it is that this little orphan girl, Pollyanna, goes to live with her mean aunt in a town chock-full of unabashed grumps, and by virtue of her sunny disposition, manages to turn all of their various and sundry frowns upside-down.
It is a very cheerful, feel-good kind of movie. It’s a Disney movie.
The Pollyanna Game, then, following the cheery vibe of the movie, is a game of looking on the bright side of things. I learned it from my friend Brooke in about the 8th grade, and I remember it from time to time when I’m feeling bummed or cranky. It goes, “Let us not be sad that *insert crappy thing here;* let us be glad that *insert upside here.*” Basically, it’s an exercise in optimism.
For instance: Let us not be sad that we still haven’t found a real job; let us be glad that we have found any job at all.
Or: Let us not be sad that our phone broke; let us be glad that we don’t have to get those annoying promotional texts anymore.
In that vein, here’s a story: A couple of weeks ago, a co-worker asked me how the writing was going, and whether I’d heard anything good from any agents. I launched into my usual rant about how I felt like I had wasted all the years I spent working on my novel, and how I was finding it hard to get motivated to work on my next project.
My lovely co-worker stopped me and he said, “You wrote a book.”
“But nobody cares.”
“I care. You care. Lots of people care. It’s a big thing you did. You should be proud of yourself.”
It kind of stopped me in my tracks, because dammit, he was right. I wrote a freaking book. A good one. And there was a time when that made me feel good about myself, made me feel proud and accomplished and worthy of respect. And somewhere along the rocky road to publishing, I lost that feeling of pride and accomplishment. I somehow stopped believing in my abilities, stopped being confident that this is the life for me.
Because it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. Being told no all the time, being constantly broke, feeling like I’m a failure.
But I’m not a failure. I did exactly what I set out to do when I got out of school. I wrote a book that meant something to me, that was engaging and well-written, that I can stand behind with pride. I did everything that I can do to make it great, and I can’t stake my feelings of self-worth on what other people think about it. I have never been the kind of person that needs someone else’s approval to feel good about herself, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna start now.
In summary: Let us not be sad that agents don’t want our book; let us be glad that we are so badass that we wrote a mother-fracking book!