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Monday, November 12, 2012

GUEST BLOG and Giveaway: Maggie Jaimeson


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Maggie will award one autographed cover flat to a randomly drawn commenter at each blog stop. In addition, she will award a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner's choice) as a grand prize to one randomly selected commenter on this tour. You must leave an email address to be entered into any of the drawings.

How to Handle Criticism (Defeating the Urge to Please Everyone)

Here’s a secret about me. I’m a pleaser. Not only that, in the past I could have won a trophy for being a world class pleaser. Yup. I think it’s my job to make sure any person I come into contact with, no matter the circumstance is happy. Believe me this is not a sane way to live your life.

I know I’m not the only one with this problem. It seems that it is a type of virus particularly visited on women, though I do know a few men infected with it too. It affects every part of my life, especially how I react to criticism. It wasn’t until I hit 40 years old that I finally figured out, and somewhat accepted, that I will NEVER please everyone about anything. At the same time I also had to accept that I will NEVER please anyone I care about all of the time. Both of these were big time, breathless “Aha” moments. But even with that knowledge and hard-won acceptance, I still have that kneejerk reaction of “It’s all my fault and I have to change something to make that person happy.” In other words I backslide on a regular basis and have to rebuild my confidence each time.

Given that I’m a pleaser, choosing to be a writer was not the easiest path to follow. But then, everyone knows I just don’t do easy. Writers face criticism every day of their life. It begins with myself—constantly questioning if I know what I’m doing and if I’m good enough. Then it moves to my wonderful critique partners whose job it is to tell me all the things that are wrong with my idea, approach, character motivation, scene structure, and overall book. Then when I start sending a novel out for publication, I get rejections also telling me that it doesn’t work for that editor. (The form rejections are the worst because I can write an entire novel about reading between the lines to figure out what they “really” mean.) Then when a publisher finally acquires my novel, my editor’s job is to once again discover all the problems it has. Finally, when the book is out in the marketplace, readers and reviewers tell me everything they don’t like about it.

So, how does one get through life with so much negativity? You’re going to think I’m crazy, or Polly Anna, but my answer is to focus on the positive. Really! You see in all the examples I gave above I only talked about the criticism. Focusing only on the negative does nothing except make me helpless. What I didn’t talk about was all the things that went right along the way. Let’s look at the list.

  1. I finished writing a novel. (Yea me!)
  2. I had the guts to share it with a fellow writer who I knew would find something wrong. (Courageous!)
  3. My critique partners actually love my novels and every piece of criticism they give me is to make it better—not to tear it down. (They love me. The really love me!)
  4. A publisher bought it. That means an editor reacted positively to it. (I’m on the brink of fame!)
  5. The editor actually loves it, and every piece of criticism she gives me is to make it better—not to tear it down. (My editor wants me to be a NYT bestseller. Really!)
  6. I regularly get emails from readers telling me why they love my books and what it means to them to empathize with my characters. (Note: I’m knocking on wood now) So far, the majority of my reviews say many good things even if they find something they didn’t like. (Okay, I’m not famous. But I’m working on it. Yeah!)
  7. Even my family and best friends like my novels—though some skip the sex scenes. Believe me, my family would tell me if they didn’t think it was good. (Yea. My family hasn’t abandoned me!)

So, this brings me full circle. Handling criticism starts with a positive attitude. The most important step is to believe that anyone who is critical is doing it to make me better—a better writer, a better person. The next step is to repeat the mantra, “I can’t please everyone all the time.” The reality is there will always be a critique partner, an editor, a friend, a reader who just won’t like something. Don’t focus on the outliers. Don’t focus on the one critique partner out of five who hated that your book was set in Ireland instead of Scotland. Don’t focus on the one reader out of 200 who had a brother just like your hero and knows that he would never do what your hero did on page 183. Focus on the majority of opinion. If four reviewers out ten are saying your heroine lacks motivation, then maybe that is something to consider. But if it’s one and the rest loved your book, just repeat “I can’t please everyone all the time.”

Yes, there are a few people I’ve encountered in life who do seem to make it a personal mission to tear me down and to build him or herself up. All I can say is: “God Bless Them. I hope they find their own happiness one day.” What I’ve learned is that the people who really care about me, who get me, and love me—even when I’m not perfect and even when I don’t please them all of the time—are the people who matter the most. I’ve also learned that the readers who love my books far outnumber the few who don’t. I wish everyone did love my books, but (repeat after me now). “I can’t please anyone all of the time.”

I’ve also learned that being a pleaser isn’t all bad. It does drive me to be a better person, a better worker, a better writer. But, like everything in life, it needs to be in moderation and I need to be cognizant of how it affects my judgment and my actions. In this process I’ve been forced to give up my world class pleaser trophy. I’ve managed to drop back to being primarily a localized pleaser (meaning everyone at work, school, in any organization I volunteer for, at church, and of course in my writing). I’m still working on being only a mother, father, sibling, relatives, husband, children and Maggie pleaser. It’s a life long process with good days and bad days. Best part is, it still hasn’t stopped me from moving forward.

About the Author: Maggie Jaimeson writes romantic women’s fiction and romantic suspense with a near future twist. She describes herself as a wife, a step-mother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher and an IT administrator. By day she is “geek girl” – helping colleges to keep up with 21st century technology and provide distance learning options for students in rural areas. By night Maggie turns her thoughts to worlds she can control – worlds where bad guys get their comeuppance, women triumph over tragedy, and love can conquer all.

Healing Notes is the second book in the Sweetwater Canyon Series of four books. The final two books will be available in 2013.

Find Maggie online at




Twitter: @maggiejaimeson

Forgiving yourself is the first step, but helping others forgive may be just too hard.

Rachel Cullen grew up in Scotland with a fiddle in her hand from the age of four. She couldn't imagine life as anything but a musician. When her husband brought her to America she was immediately embraced by the Celtic and Bluegrass communities. But after her divorce, Rachel's life is a mess.

A year of trying to prove to herself that she's woman enough for any man, and then a vicious rape while on tour with the band, leaves Rachel reeling. When she meets Noel Kershaw, an English teacher who is poetry in motion, she is definitely attracted. But he has a young child and he's suffering from his own divorce. The last thing Rachel needs in life is more baggage.

First, Rachel must reconcile who she is, what she wants, and how to get there. Maybe then she'll know how to be a part of the family she's always wanted.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

Catherine Lee said...

Thank goodness I'm not a pleaser! I'd think it would be exhausting...all that having to say yes all the time and be nice to people. UGH!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Debby said...

Criticism is tough to handle. I am a pleaser as well but am trying hard to gt over that.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Ingeborg said...

I agree, you can't please everyone.


Anonymous said...

I pretend I'm not a pleaser, but I think I am a lot of the time. Yikes.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting me today. Catherine, LOL on being nice to people.
Debby, From one fellow pleaser to another, it takes practice. Also finding someone else afflicted with this virus can help both of you stay on track. Think of it as AA for pleasers.
Ingeborg, Thanks for stopping by. You definitely can't please everyone, and some people you can never please. It's all about knowing what you can control. :)

Evelyn Bohn said...

I'm glad to see a book that is truthful about rape, instead of what some politicians would have us believe.

Oh, and I have the pleaser virus too. If you know of a vaccine for it, I'd love to have it. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Vita, I hear you. I don't like the fact I'm a pleaser, except that people think I'm nice. It is one of those traits that is heavily reinforced in women and yet carried to the extreme is unhealthy.

Evelyn (or do you go by Evie?) LOL. I wish there was a vaccine. I'd take it every year like my flu shot. Unfortunately, it's more of daily trial. But identifying it is the first step. So, knowing it's a part of your makeup means you will be able to put up the appropriate virus blockers. :)

Jessa Slade said...

It's so hard to not have criticism hurt (even well-meant criticism) when our hearts are on the line. You can criticize my housekeeping all day long -- and it would take you that long to do a right proper job of my many failings in that department! -- and I won't care. But my writing... I'm not a pleaser, but I am neurotic, so there's that ;)

Shannon Ro said...

I am definetly a pleaser too, maybe with time I will learn to let it go as you have. It would make my life much easier and less stressful

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

Mary Preston said...

You can't please everyone. Staying positive is a great way to be.


winnie said...

Very good post, it was interesting to read - thanks for sharing!