Going Pro—Earning Rhino Skin & Learning Which Opinions Matter

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I heard somewhere that, statistically speaking, 10% of people will simply not like us, no matter what we do or how much we try. Whenever we decide to do something remarkable or even just different, this is when we’re most likely to encounter push-back.

Also, if we enjoy any measure of success or achievement, expect to be knifed. This is reality. We cannot control others, only ourselves and how we respond and what we choose to internalize. As writers, we’ll experience this with friends, family and even strangers.

Ah, strangers…

If I met someone and told them I was an HR manager, most people likely wouldn’t reply, “No I meant, what is your real job?”

I wouldn’t have to give a resume of all my accomplishments and proof I made money as an HR manager or even a roster of how many people I had in my charge. Yet, no one seems to find this type of behavior rude to do to creative professionals.

Sometimes it’s more than a little hard not to take it personally. But roll with it. Will save wrinkles 😉 .

Yet, I will say this kind of disrespect can derail us when we’re new, so we must learn to IGNORE IT. Maybe others won’t tell you this, but I will. I believe in you. You’re not Schrodinger’s Writer. You exist.

Original image via Flickr Commons, courtesy of Casey Konstantin

Original image via Flickr Commons, courtesy of Casey Konstantin

Write words? You are a writer NOT an “aspiring writer.” Aspiring is for pansies. It takes guts to do this job. Feel free to be a pre-published writer, but leave aspiring to the amateurs where it belongs.

Doctors begin as pre-med and lawyers start out as pre-law. They aren’t aspiring doctors and aspiring lawyers so I recommend deleting that word from your lexicon. Ignore these toxic “opinions.”

Also? Blog any amount of time and someone will call you an idiot. I guarantee it. They will have all kinds of Monday Morning Quarterback opinions, but they often hide behind cutesy monikers and avatars and don’t have the stones to have their OWN blog.

Why? Because being critical is way easier than doing.

There are all kinds of theories as to why humans act or react the way they do, but truth is? I don’t really care. Bluntness is my superpower. I don’t care and most times? You shouldn’t either.

I feel there are some things we’ve been taught in the past twenty or thirty years that’s just plain bunk. If we believe these “truths”? Just save up for therapy.

Every Opinion is Valid

Meme from Facebook

Nope. Sorry. Not all opinions are valid. Yes, people have a right to an opinion, but they also have a right to be wrong. Learning to separate out junk and ignore it is going to help you (and me) maintain peace when criticism comes our way. Discernment is critical.

My mom and I often talk about how stories we gravitated to as children are very telling about our character weaknesses/struggles.

My favorite was Old Man Wicket’s Donkey. The poor old man sets out with his grandson, a donkey and a load of grain. Everyone they encounter on the road has an opinion and Wicket tries to accommodate.

You terrible man. How can you let the boy walk when there is a donkey he could ride?

You dreadful, selfish man. How can you load that poor donkey with all that grain and a boy? The boy can walk!

And on and on and by the end of the story, they are all in the river, the grain lost, and the donkey drowns. By trying to please everyone, Wicket lost everything. He (and the poor donkey) paid the consequences for the decision, not every stranger with an opinion. For them? Opinions are free.

Sometimes, we just have to draw a line and if people don’t like our decision? They can get over it.

Understand sometimes others might not have enough information, the wrong information, sun spots frying their critical thinking. Who knows? Who cares? They might even have kind or noble intentions. But we’re the ones left with a dead donkey for listening to too many voices.

Every Opinion has Authority

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Again? Nope. Some people are not only wrong, but they don’t have a say. I know we live in this touchy-feely world where we’re all friends and peers but that’s a ticket to Crazyville. One of the reasons I quit running a free on-line novel workshop is I spent too much time defending my lessons and critiques against newbies.

I had people who begged and pleaded and got on waiting lists to be in my class…just to argue with me non-freaking-stop in front of others. They’d been in the writing world all of a minute when I’d spent ten years in the field. It was exhausting for me and demoralizing for others in the class.

Looking back? I shouldn’t have indulged this behavior.

I never mind questions. I LOVE teaching the whys behind my methods and new people often think of things I don’t. I learn from everyone. I believe most professionals are open and even excited to share more details.

But that’s wholly different than some neophyte being disrespectful, challenging a professional’s competency in front of others, and refusing to listen and take instructions because we’re all pals. I’ve experienced this poor behavior on the blog, in the workplace, writing groups, family, and even martial arts.

Nothing like a white belt standing there and correcting an upper belt. Le sigh. Most of my injuries in martial arts came from White Belt Know-It-Alls who believed they could correct/ignore me in Jiu-Jitsu (because they once took Tae Kwon Do for a month).

Um, no. And I was the one with the torn rotator cuff, not the noob who didn’t want to listen to how to do a throw properly.

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I learned eventually to stop this early with a boundary. If someone is reckless in the dojo and won’t listen? I won’t work/spar with them.

As a current two-stripe white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I know my place. If I have a question or don’t understand something, I respect Coach’s instruction and don’t argue because, “I watched a YouTube video that said…”


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Thing is, some people just don’t get a vote and they shouldn’t get one. There are places even MY opinions are better kept to myself.

One of my greatest vexations in the business/writing world has been dealing with people who go to just anyone for an opinion. This erodes confidence and creates confusion.

If I write romance, it is unwise to get a middle-aged male who likes techno-thrillers to beta read. He isn’t my market. If he doesn’t like it? Fine. But don’t go rewrite the book because one person made a constipated face. This person’s opinion shouldn’t have the same authority as a respected beta reader who’s a middle-aged female and huge fan of love stories.

I had family members who felt the need to give an opinion about me leaving sales and becoming a writer. People who hadn’t talked to me five times since childhood. Really? Just…really O_o .

Okay, when we’re finished talking about my career path, we’re going to have a little chat about your relationship record and child-rearing.

Or not.

Know WHO You Are

My favorite quote is, “Tigers do not lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.” People have opinions. A lot feel the need to share them. Go team! But we don’t have to listen and take these opinions to heart. We can consider the source.

Sometimes criticism or critique is valid, but it can also be manipulation and gas-lighting with a bow. A big red flag is when others don’t address a specific behavior, they’re content to condemn you (or me) as a person. When I was in my 20s and even 30s I used to play these Reindeer Games.

No mas.

Well, people don’t like you because you talk too much.

So I’d be quiet.

Well, people don’t like you because you don’t talk enough. They think you’re a snob.


Well, you really just need to watch your topics of conversation. You’re offending people.

Apparently not enough for them to come to me in person. Which people? Which topics?

Well, I don’t want to say. Just be careful what you talk about.

I’m gonna go back to the “not talking” thing.

People don’t like you.

Why? What am I doing? What can I change?

Well, just try harder so others will like you. 


People don’t like you because you just try too hard.

I give up.

The mark of a secure person is we don’t need to be surrounded by yes-men and drones. But just because we are open to opinions, doesn’t mean they all should get equal weight.

When it comes to doing this writing thing, we cannot listen to everyone. When we do, we end up with a Book-by-Committee, Blog-by-Committee, Career-by-Committee, etc. And, last time I checked, committees are generally known for just mucking things up.

Sometimes life calls for a benevolent dictatorship 😉 .

Yes, you likely will fail. If we aren’t failing, we aren’t doing anything interesting. I fail. I fail a lot because I try a lot of new things others are too chicken to attempt. Own it. Be proud of it. Show me someone who’s never failed and I’ll show you someone who never did anything remarkable.

Rhino skin is earned by trials and we won’t last long in the world without it.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Paul Hudson

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Paul Hudson

Guard your dreams and your heart. Be fierce. Set boundaries. Let go of the toxic stuff to make room for the good stuff, the stuff with merit.

What are your thoughts? Have you encountered this nonsense in the writing world or even maybe the workplace? Do you have family, friends or even strangers who’ve crossed a line? Do you find it hard to ignore wrong or bad opinions? Have you dealt with opinions that corroded your confidence and made you second-guess?

Do you have a litmus test for what opinions and ideas are worth time and mental energy? Have you felt torn apart by conflicting advice? Maybe even dealt with the “no one likes you” maneuver?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of FEBRUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. Awesome blog, post, and quote. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. I can agree with everything you said in this post. To a “T”. I also played reindeer games with people and tried to please everyone I came across that I felt miserable and depressed. Once I stopped trying to please everyone and only tried to make myself happy, yeah I lost quite a few “friends” who thought I was surely just acting that way to be a bitch, but I gained some new friends who appreciated me for who I was and what I did. I’m less depressed and happier every day that goes by – most of the time. 🙂

    1. “Will you like me in a box? Will you like me with a fox?” yeah, no. Pound sand. Leave room for people who actually LIKE me and I don’t have to play a bunch of head games. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks SO much for commenting! ((HUGS))

      1. Thank you for writing this! I hate head games – even with myself, which happens quite a lot for some reason I haven’t figured out… O.o

  3. Amazing article love, love it. The way I see it those who are not doing it should get out the way of those who are doing it. There is a saying that goes , what others think about me is none of my business. I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the pain of thought. I totally agree with your approach, people and their opinions are like any other minor obstacles, like a flat tire in the morning. If you get a flat you don’t puncture the other three tires and go back inside. you change the flat one and get on with your day

    • Celia on February 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm
    • Reply

    I so needed to read this right now. I’ve had people tell me all those things (“too quiet,” “too talkative,” “too-insert-problem-of-choice”). Like @shegyes, I’m in the process of looking to my happiness, and setting healthy boundaries. Thanks for the reminder that not everyone’s opinion need be weighted equally. Yes. 🙂

  4. Well said. I have the same problem with being slapped down for being open. I really think you write well and with style. I think the topics are interesting. I follow very few blogs. I won’t always agree with everything though. If only adoring comments are welcome, please say so. I have never written anything rude or dismissive or insulting here. I have at times offered personal experience that wasn’t the same or asked a hard question with authenticity. I’m also not a beginner. I have put in my 10,000 hours and then some.

    1. I never mind disagreement so long as it’s respectful. My best blogs are when we debate. Who wants to live in a world of clones? *gags*

  5. Wow, that piece is amazing, I am a new writer, no, I won’t say aspiring writer any more, and I am always amazed at my friends and family who offer to edit my work, I really don’t understand why they think they can and when I tell them they don’t understand what I am trying to say or I don’t agree with their edits they try to make me feel like I am being a baby and just can’t take their criticism… what I don’t understand is what makes them all think they are qualified to edit my work or any one else’s work? They are not published, experienced authors! Your piece here was very refreshing and affirming for me. I’ll take all the help I can get in the writing arena from people who know more and have more experience than I do, but not from people who think they know. Thank you for posting this, amazing.
    Namaste 🙂

  6. A secure person I am not. There, I said it. That’s why I’m taking time to step back a bit and fix that issue, one ingrained in me through childhood. Now or never. It wasn’t enough to let the past go, I now see, I must let the learned behaviors go, too. That’s how I ended up with one of your “committee” books, each revision sucking the voice right out of it. Time for the next round. 🙂

    1. We all struggle. Even me. Sometimes I realize I let a toxic person get purchase in my heart only later. But we get better with practice 😉 .

  7. I got 3 things to say…

    1. Terrific piece, them animal references are always pointy errrr poignant

    2. You are entitled to your wrong opinion and I will tell you about it if you insist on burdening me with it.

    3. Fuck em (sorry but I gotta go with the quote) all except 6 as we need them for pall bearer’s of which I’ll be one and the 5 real true friends I have will be the others.

  8. Reblogged this on heartwordsforpoetry and commented:
    This piece is so wonderful, just had to share it with all of you!

  9. Love that tiger quote!! And I needed to hear it today!! Thanks for sharing!

  10. In my old job, I used to have a shelf covered in post-its with inspiring quotes. You’ve just inspired me to start that again with the tiger quote. I love it! I’ve had to make some difficult decisions in the past and cut people out of my life, or at least, lessen their influence, just for my own sanity. I’m all for healthy discussion, but I can’t deal with tunnel vision. And I’m pretty sure that my parents would still like to give their opinions on my partner (who I’ve been with for six years now), but thankfully they now hold their tongues. I think they’ve finally figured out I’m not going to dump him just because they think I could do better.

  11. Believe it or not, grasshopper, there are people in the world who find fault in others to buffer their own inferiority complex. Constructive criticism will always build the subject up, not tear him/her down. One must choose who to hear.

  12. Wow!! And agree. Flexibility allows for the opportunity to learn, but I agree, we must stay true to who we are in order to write.

  13. Great, great, great, post! I’ve always said for every author or artist-of-whatever you think is a genius, there’s someone who thinks they suck. You can’t please everybody, nor should you try. The only thing guaranteed is that some will like you and some will not.

  14. Ms. Lamb, I agree with just about everything you said. I hang my differing with you on the term, thin-skinned. As it describes someone as overly sensitive to criticism, I accept that one must learn to put such stuff aside. As it describes someone as sensitive to people and their surroundings, I ascribe to such an attribute; and would even add that it is the attribute of being a better writer.

    I don’t know enough to conclude that all writers should have the attribute, I can only attest that I consider myself thin-skinned, but I do not allow others to walk over me with their opinions; not do I entertain loud and obnoxious folks who merely wish to expound on their ability to be the hind side of a horse. I embrace that my natural posture is to be in tune with what is happening around me; what people are feeling, what might be troubling them, the heavy air of the situation, or conversely the light and giving setting of a different situation. Only then do I truly relate to others and the world around me.

    Should any of those circumstances introduce any of the flavors of speech and action you allude to in your blog, I quickly park my thin skin in an imaginary suitcase I always carry along with me for such occasions. Then I use what intellect I possess to remove or squelch the offense, or else extricate myself from the proceedings.

    As you mentioned it is not possible to please everyone; but, they will rarely find my thin skin waiting for their attack.

    1. Empathy is crucial to what we do and I think sometimes that can hurt us if we don’t learn when to put up a force field, so to speak. We can use empathy to the point our brains fall out and our dream dies. Boundaries are vital and walking away is sometimes necessary.

  15. As of late, I have found that some of the people who can be most critical are those in the industry. Even though the represent a lot of different paths to publishing success, they can be very condescending about any path that isn’t the path they offer or that they have taken.

    For example, I went to a writing conference in 2013 not long after self-publishing my book. Before self-publishing, I did A LOT of research, weighed my options, and made the choices that I felt best met my needs and goals. I’ve been happy with the final product and the financial gain. Would I do things differently with the next book? Sure! There are new options and new tools available. Of course I’m going to adapt to what’s available. But I digress.

    Anyway, at this writing conference, I had the opportunity to talk with people from small presses, ebook companies, university presses, and literary agencies, and I was initially excited to see what opportunities they offered. But as I talked to these people, I was a little taken aback by how many people–writers and industry reps–went out of their way to tell me I was doing everything wrong. A small press owner told me that by “self publishing,” I was “vanity publishing,” and therefore, my book wasn’t worth much. He also told me that my website was crap because it was a WordPress site and not a Front Page site (I promise, that’s what he said), that I was wasting time blogging because I didn’t think that selling ads was the right thing for me, etc. A university press person told me that eBooks were pointless and no one was buying them, and that I was wasting my time offering my book in eBook format. The whole conference was like this. In 2013!

    I was annoyed that I had wasted my money on the conference (and left early to at least save a night’s stay at the hotel), but at least I had confidence in my choices. I could have l easily felt really beaten up by these people, because…they were experts, right? I remember going back to my room and, for the briefest moment, thinking, “Wow, am I kidding myself? The experts were saying that I was stupid and incompetent.” And then I reminded myself that I’d done my homework, what I was doing was working for me, and reminded myself that I was okay.

    It really made me worry about all of the newbies who were there to learn and didn’t know enough to question what they were being told.

    My biggest take-away was learning that going to a conference because it’s close by isn’t the reason to go to a conference. Research the speakers and make sure I know why I’m going and what I hope to learn. (And that’s when I discovered WanaCon…)

    1. Every where we turn to find directions as indie writers we are inundated with experts. Be careful. We need editors, we need beta readers, we ned help with covers and maybe formatting. After then it is all about writing.
      Yes, finding an audience can be daunting, but following folks like Ms Lamb (check please – only kidding) will tune us in there without pouring away tons of money. Like everything else; we need to take time to learn our trade. Watch out for the wolves.

  16. Great post ~ always helps to remember “follow your own voice” be open to listen but only accept that which makes sense to you and makes your writing better. My sister and I knew a talented screenwriter who had the funding and opportunity to write a very short film. She wanted it to stretch her wings; to put her interesting idea on film and learn. Regretfully, the actors kept wanting their parts enlarged, the people around her encouraged ever expanding, chaotic, confusing, writing despite our warnings and help. She was left with an extremely expensive, mistake, not to mention being savaged by the critizer Trolls. Sadly, her ego never recovered.

    Thanks for the wonderful examples and of course – the Tiger quote – heh.

    • Renee on February 25, 2015 at 5:01 pm
    • Reply

    Your blogs always resonate with me. It’s incredible. Yes, relate to so much of what you say. I am a reforming people-pleaser and had two very critical (emotionally damaged) parents growing up. Compounding the issue was that I was the oldest of five and tried my best to be useful, helpful, cheerful. I tried to be a second mom when my own mother was crippled by depression and couldn’t do her job.

    Later, whenever I wasn’t available to help my mother, when I had goals for myself, such as writing, I was labeled “selfish.” So my path to publication has been fraught with rejection, but probably self-sabotage as well. I feel I’m defective and people smell that like blood in the water, my friends. While I’ve met some really fine women in the romance genre, I’ve met a few sharks, too. What happens, is you tend to repeat what you learned in childhood, so you have to make a real effort to “see” what you’re doing (reliving bad patterns), avoid new fins, and swim to a new island.

    Speaking of rhino skin. Once, I made the hideous error of posting my novel opening on a popular blog site for first-page critique. My story was eviscerated. One woman who struck me as self-published, was especially shrill. There wasn’t a single positive comment. She sneered that I didn’t know what “the hell I was doing.”

    Fast-forward, I revised that novel, and didn’t touch the first page… the very opening that was savaged by this one author and a dozen others – attracted the attention of 10 major agents. I just signed with an agent, after five years of hard work.

    My novel will be published, and I know the one author will continue to hate it, and delight in shredding my work and other people’s, too. But I gotta wonder. What does that say about her, her life and her general outlook? How unhappy she must be. How sad.

    Kind of reminds me of the ending in “Philomena,” when the male lead snarls at Judi Dench’s character: “I’m really angry!” And Dench’s Philomena responds with compassion, “How exhausting that must be.”

    Wherever I post, I channel Thumper. “If you don’t have anything nice to say….”

    • Angie on February 25, 2015 at 5:06 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Love, Laughter, and Life and commented:
    Humor and information.

  17. Excellent rant! Needed to be said. Sometimes writing stuff drives me crazy with everyone assuming they are the authority on where my work should go.

  18. I work at LegoLand and sometimes bend over backwards to please people. Yet with all I do some cannot be happy. There they are in an amusement park with the face of a grinch. Their kid running around and miserable as an indication of a family life gone astray. Like you stated cannot please everybody.

  19. I like the term pre-published. I am published but I’ll share the word with my writing students. Thanks.

    1. Stole it from the North Texas RWA. Those ladies rock!

  20. Great post, Kristen. Still toughening up my rhino skin, but it’s getting pretty thick. Still, there are soft spots. 🙂 Being willing to fail is part of success. We can’t let it stop us from working toward our goals. Yes, I’ve dealt with the same kind of comments in my life, and now I know what I have to do, and anyone who has negative opinions about it and can’t honor the boundaries I set, well, I have to put some distance between us. If we listen to too many opinions and try to please everyone with what we write, there’s a good chance we’ll lose our voice, and the writing will be flat. I’ve seen it happen, even with experienced writers.

  21. Reblogged this on Howling in the wind. and commented:
    Sometimes it feels like much of my life to date has been spent trying to please other people. That’s partly why I love writing. Right now it’s solely for me: my dream, my catharsis. The thought of putting stuff out there is scary, but I’m getting much better at discarding toxic opinions, and (after the initial blow), learn so much from genuine critical advice. It’s hard to remember that well meant, positive advice can as harmful, sometimes.

  22. This is so awesome. Such a great reminder! It’s something I definitely struggle with, and it’s part of the reason I was so scared to announce to the world I am a writer.

  23. Once again, an article worth hanging on the wall for reminder when the going gets tough.

  24. Thank you for this, Kristen. I feel pumped.

    Have I meet people with opinions?
    Oh, yeah.
    And what I can’t get over is how willing people with no background in (music, fine art, writing — some aspect of the arts) are over-the-moon ready to share their opinion with what we (artists) do.

    I don’t think you should… blab, blab, blab
    I really think you should do this not that… blab, blab, blab

    Who asked them?
    No one.
    So who should be listening?
    No one.

  25. Excellent post. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
    When I started to use and think the word ‘friend’ for a limited number of supportive individuals and call the rest ”acquaintances’, it was easier to ignore the opinion of several toxic individuals and put them at arm’s length. Perhaps that little trick could work for others.

  26. Well said, Kristen. The have-tos and you’re-toos often say more about the person issuing them than anyone else.

  27. Thank you for writing this. It is spot on and just what I need right now.

  28. The older you get, the less you will care what anyone else thinks. Well, maybe you’ll always care what your mother thinks. Getting comfortable in your own skin truly comes with age. You’ve adopted a mature attitude by trusting your own instincts first and most.

  29. I definitely need rhinoceros skin for when I put my middle grade book out there. Tweens can be brutal critics.

  30. As always, I appreciate the suggestions you make. They’ve been a great source of help since I started. Thanks! 🙂

  31. Great post! Love the “pre-published” moniker. Thanks for the confidence boost.

    • mrmacrum on February 25, 2015 at 8:26 pm
    • Reply

    I come here via a link at Legend Fire. Not sure why, I don’t usually follow links elsewhere. But I did and I am glad I punched that link. Your well written post reinforces my efforts to become a contrary old fart and not be ashamed of it. People have always second guessed me throughout my life. Didn’t pay attention to them then and I definitely will not in the future.

    Never have I been an aspiring writer. I am just a writer who would like to improve his skill set for his own pleasure. I don’t want wishy washy oh that’s a nice story about nothing, keep writing meaningless touchy feely comments. I want someone to tell me their opinion, their truth. Legend Fire seems just the place, and your blog looks good to put on the shelf next to it. Thanks

  32. Love your blog; great post.

  33. Reblogged this on Deborah Smith, Author, Publisher and commented:
    Another great blog from Kristen Lamb

  34. So glad I decided to follow your blog. I’m a fantasy writer myself, and the looks I get from family members is disheartening when I tell them so. Thank you for your words of wisdom!

  35. I have a pretty thick skin. But I have my limits. Especially with my hubby who never reads fiction. This is actually why I felt compelled to share my poem about FSoG with you on Facebook. I get very tired of him not “getting” what and why I write, so I haven’t even bothered to tell him that I wrote it at all. We would only end up arguing.

    It’s difficult and sad. Writing is such a big part of who I am, and it’s hard not to share it with the man I love. We have lots of terrific things in common, but fiction isn’t one of them.

    Thanks for reading my poem. I’m so glad that you “get” it. <3

  36. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  37. I cracked up laughing about the white-belt karate mom’s having the gumption to nit-pick the sensei or upper beltswoman. They don’t even take karate … their kids do … but they think they know it all and whine when their kid isn’t moved up to black belt in 6 months. Writing is like that … everybody thinks its so easy, what we do. Nobody wants to take the ‘lumps’ that go along with throwing your manuscript out into the world to fight for its existence. Great article.

  38. Reblogged this on C.C. WILEY and commented:
    Once again, Kristen Lamb tells it like it is in her latest blog post.
    Love this quote. “Tigers do not lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.”

  39. This exactly how I’ve been feeling these last few days. In fact I have a post drafted along the same lines . It’s easy to get lost in other peoples opinions along the way. It was refreshing to read, there is too much ‘noise’ sometimes. Thanks for the post.

  40. Thank you for this post it means a lot. I love it and your blog posts and books have really come at the best time for me. I have a virtually finished book that is in need of editing and just putting it out there, I think of the mean spiritedness of my particular niche. I’d like to believe that I have a thick skin, but I have seen the behaviour and so I hold myself and the project back when all it needs is the editing and Kindle formatting.

  41. Great post, Kristen!!

  42. How many people do you know who earned a year of college credit while they were full time Army paratroopers as teenagers and went from a being a private pilot to Airline Transport Pilot in two years and flew solo from Wichita, Kansas across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to Africa, Asia, and Australia and Europe and flew Lear Jets over four continents and erupting volcanoes and photographed multiple (dummy) warhead reentries from 20,000 feet at night in the target zone (all with a perfect safety record) and earned a BS and an MA and who wrote and published a book? Why is sitting in a classroom boring and sitting all day alone in a plane over an ocean is not? Of course I have never saved lives as a heart surgeon or been president of the United States or led a nation though a war as prime minister or won a Nobel Prize for literature. But then there was only one Winston Churchill, and there’s only one me.

    Actually this is a test of my arrogance and to see if this comment will be accepted by Automatic, Inc.

    1. I got it Richard. NO clue what was going on before. No clue why the “degree” has gotten so much attention and undue respect. I have one. Yay me. But our culture is getting a tad snooty towards those who have hands-on experience or are tradespeople or craftspeople.

  43. People and their opinions are the reason I never pursued writing at an early age, as much as I wanted to. Now? I’m doing what I love. If they don’t approve, it’s not my problem. I still get a lot of ‘helpful’ suggestions about my career path, like how I should write stuff like 50 Shades if I want to succeed as an author, or how I should consider leaving my peaceful country home behind and moving to a city “where the real money is”. Never mind that it’s taken me this long to get out of the city to a place I want to be.

  44. A good post and I agree with you. I’ve had trouble dealing with other people’s opinions and for a long time I tried not to say anything just to make sure I didn’t say the “wrong” thing. Blogging has been one thing that’s helped me work through that. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have gained any “you’re doing it wrong” comments or the like, but even if I did, I think I could look at it critically or just ignore it, instead of second guessing myself and my choices like I would’ve when I was younger.

  45. I love the tiger illustration! Unfortunately now whenever I encounter unedifying criticism my eyes will be glazing over as I imagine nomming down on the crit-ee, or should I say crit-er? (How does a tiger get wool out from between their teeth, anyway?)

  46. I think I used to be one of these “opinionated people”. But I’ve learned my lesson and in my defence I was a teenager 😉 Everyone has the right to an opinion I agree completely. What a lot of people are missing these days is that Facebook is not scientific, anyone and their dog can put up stuff on YouTube and don’t even get me started on Twitter. Opinions are good, because they help you think (and opinionated people have at least taken a few minutes to think up that opinion contrary to many ignorant others). I love having discussions and I would love for more people to be open and able to have a conversation about the why and the how without feeling like they’re being attacked or attacking. You can be friends and disagree.

  47. Solid point.

    However, I recommend you remove the word pansy from your opinions. Unless you really do believe homosexuals are failures.

    I suggest dilettantes, hobbyists, or some other word actually relating to the divide between doing and vaguely wanting to do if it doesn’t get in the way or become too hard.

    1. Thanks, but I’m not PC. That is a dangerous slippery-slope. People can get over it. And pansies doesn’t refer to homosexuals. It refers to people with no fortitude. I’m not here to handhold everyone’s delicate ego. People refer to me as “white” all the time and I don’t make them go change that, unless they will hence forth refer to all Asians as “yellow.” People need to suck it up and get a thicker skin. If they don’t like it and feel attacked? Find another blog that is willing to serve pablum.

      I warned you bluntness was my superpower 😉 .

  48. Great points Kristen – I’m going to change all my authors labelled as ‘Aspiring’ to ‘Pre-published Writer’ now 😀

  49. You are such an inspiration, Kristen.

  50. Veni Vidi Vici, for authors:
    I came, I saw, I wrote.

    No one else will write *your* story 🙂

    • morgynstarz on February 26, 2015 at 8:54 am
    • Reply

    Here’s a slightly different bent on this theme — in writing groups, when someone incoming does not match the skill set of the others — say by a lightyear — how do others not buzzkill the newbie? Especially when the group are all peers. I belong to a couple of crit groups and the one tool that has worked best is self-selecting. Everyone puts their stuff up for crit and those who want to do so. Any suggestions greatly appreciated

      • Stephanie Scott on February 27, 2015 at 11:22 am
      • Reply

      Such a great question. Within groups I’ve seen writers work with that person one-on-one for a session or two, or perhaps to trade pages out of the group. That way they provide support and maybe some more detailed, kind and directed critique without the pressure of the group setting. I’ve also seen the same counseled writer come back not having made much improvement, but still determined to learn.

      I think what you need to watch out for are those who refuse to take criticism, who get overly defensive or take it personally. If they are not open to learn, especially when it is given in a constructive manner, then that becomes the larger issue.

        • morgynstarz on March 1, 2015 at 8:43 am
        • Reply

        Now that is a good idea. Mentor the newbie & figure out if they can grab their bootstraps and yank up to the group. Turns out the situation I was asking about solved itself. Said writer thought crit group = petting session & walked away in a huff when it turned out their bon mots got called on the carpet as not working. The sad part is some nose to grindstone & they could have made something of their story. Oh well, how many of us are publishing every year? Guess the world will continue spinning with one less.

  51. I asked a non-reader to beta my first erotic romance. She loved it – apart from the use of slang words in the sex scenes! How fortunate that I then asked a relevant Facebook group of romance readers (Alpha Heroes for Curvy Girls) their opinion. Over 250 comments, overwhelmingly in favour of slang. “Save the technical terms for the science lessons” they said. Yup – get opinions from people whose opinons matter. Well said (as always) Kristen.

  52. “But roll with it. Will save wrinkles.” I agree. It IS NOT worth it. It is not easy to be labeled as either “too much” or “not enough” no matter what the circumstance. I will keep your words in mind. Nice blog.

  53. I like the idea of having rhino skin. I’ll have to use that. And I’m also gonna stop sayin’, “aspiring author,” and start calling myself a writer. Nothing before, nothing after.

  54. Great article and great advice. Listen but be willing to ignore, have an open mind and know when to say fuck it I’m doing my own thing. It’s the balance everyone struggles with and I’m doing my best to get there as well.

  55. So true, Kristen! The fun part, also, is reaching the age when, even though there are trolls out there, you are confident enough in yourself and your craft to recognize them for who and what they are.

  56. Right On, Kristen. As a Sociology prof (in the past, thank God I’m retired now and publishing romance), I had a male student (of course, a male) argue with me in class about some obscure point in Karl Marx’s work. The point was irrelevant to my course requirements. He was just trying to show off about how smart he was. I quickly saw that and just said, ‘Thank you for your opinion.’ And left it at that. No good was going to come of it. Pooey on smarty pants. PS he made a C in the class. Thanks for a good posting.

  57. Great article and some much needed motivation.
    Thank you.

  58. You cannot believe how timely this blog was. Thanks for the belly laugh 🙂 (oh, and pick me! pick me!)

    • Rachel Thompson on February 27, 2015 at 10:02 am
    • Reply

    The answer to this is critical thinking–very few people practice it or even know it when they witness it much less live by it. If you sail your own ship no one’s storm can sink you. Be a force of nature, then the rest is just wind.

    • Stephanie Scott on February 27, 2015 at 11:18 am
    • Reply

    When RBF “Resting Bitch Face” became a known phrase I thought–oh great, there’s a name for what I’ve been accused of. I’ve had people later say they thought I didn’t like them when we first met because I was quiet, reserved, and apparently appear to be looking judgemental. If I appear that way, I’m usually guarded because I feel out of my element, and try to cover over it with politeness. I once had someone tell me (OK they told a friend who told me) that they thought I didn’t like them BECAUSE I was being polite. Um, what? They assumed I should joke around with them instantly like that person’s other friends did, I joke with my friends. If I don’t know you, I’m polite. People are so strange!

  59. Wise, wise words. Thanks. And i love the tiger quote.

  60. I actually got chills from reading that ‘conversation’ you wrote. I remember having the ‘you offend people, figure out why and stop it’ was one I vividly remember having with a pastor I worked for. I wish I’d caught on earlier that it was a sign of a very dysfunctional and eventually abusive person…truly horrible experience.

    Having earned two black belts with my kids, I can so relate to your karate mom story. That made me smile.Been there, done that. Reminded me of the college intro psyc students I used to teach who regularly would tell me how they thought their opinion counted as much as properly done research. Ah well….

    1. Maria Grace: Fascinating. Maybe we know the same pastor? Sounds very similar to someone I know. It’s always fun when you say “really? Who?” and they say “they want to be anonymous,” etc.

      1. That part drives me especially crazy. I kinda hate that someone else has gone through that, but at the same time, it’s also a little comforting/normalizing to hear it wasn’t just me.

        1. Abuse can happen anywhere, even in the context of places that are supposed to be “safe.” Then again, Job was doing all the right things and look at what happened to him. The end result is that you love your enemies because that’s hard and it sets you apart and this experience now gives you experience from which you can speak and minister to others who are walking the same path. It also gives you grist for writing: you have conflict, dilemma, character archetypes, difficult decisions (stay on and keep getting abused, but I can change him if I love him enough or quit, loss of income, and everyone thinks -you- did something wrong). People sin. Even the ones we hold up to be leaders and examples.

  61. Reblogged this on Tari McNeil and commented:
    Good advice

  62. My mantra used to be “the dogs bark, but the parade goes on.” I think I’m going to adopt your tiger saying instead. Bravo!

  63. This brings me back to JR high. I’d just switched over from Catholic school to public school. I’ve always been a quiet child and loved reading. So when I switched to another school, I knew no one there except for my brother who was in a different class. So of course, I became even more quieter. Well this one girl took offense to that and made it shown and I coudn’t even understand why. I did nothing to her. Found out why soon enough as she was telling the teacher that she didn’t like me because she thought that I thought “I was all that.” Basically it was a “Well, people don’t like you because you don’t talk enough. They think you’re a snob.” moment.

  64. Ah yes. I remember when I first told folks I had a blog. I actually had to stop posting a particular section because I kept “offending” people.

  65. Reblogged this on offworldonline.

  1. […] Going Pro—Earning Rhino Skin & Learning Which Opinions Matter. […]

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  3. […] Going Pro—Earning Rhino Skin & Learning Which Opinions Matter. […]

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