Saturday, September 10, 2011

did negative words ever push you in a positive direction?

People say a lot about how to handle the negative things we've been told. "Forget it and just remember the nice ones," they say, or "Those who are close to you know what you're really like or what you can really do."

But I wonder if at times, I can credit the negative words for pushing me in a positive direction. Three years ago (can't believe it's been that long!) an agent read fifty pages at my attempt at a novel. This was a fragment of six months of hard work. Six months that nobody in my world seemed to understand, to top it off: I had just decided to take some time off to write, without any promise or potential, and everyone in my life seemed to have a discouraging thing to say about it.
"This just doesn't read like fiction," she said when we spoke on the phone. "You need a writing class." Her tone was withdrawn and straight-to-business. So was my crying that followed.

But in the coming months, I saw that she was right. It didn't read like fiction at all. Hard work and effort didn't mean that the product was worthy.

Then I think of something that happened in fifth grade. My teacher told my mom that I wouldn't amount to anything in life. I can see where she was coming from: we had just moved to the area and I missed all my old friends and didn't concentrate in school, I also stopped socializing, and wasn't athletic. Looking back, all I can think is, "what a terrible thing to say about any fifth grader!" But at the time, my mom conveying those words back to me pushed me to prove her wrong.

Anyway, I think that "negativity" of any sort could just be a positive message in disguise. So maybe it isn't about negative or positive but rather, what we do with it.



11 comments:

  1. I guess it can have a positive effect, although some people are just destroyed by negative words. I remember one reviewer stating that while my book was good, it lacked in world building. It did motivate me to pour a lot more world building into my second book.
    Regardless of the effect, that was still a crappy thing to say about a fifth grader!

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  2. Hey saumya , it just created a picture before my eyes , Sometimes Yes it can bring a positive effect like you said . But sometimes , you have to sensible and confident enough to ignore sayings you think are not right. Life is all about improving and learning. God bless

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  3. Yes it can have a positive effect but I am still shocked about what your teacher said. While I may not agree with the whole 'tell each child they are the best at everything so we don't upset them' philosophy, there is a way of phrasing things.

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  4. It probably depends on a person's individual personality. Some people are motivated by negativity because they want to improve on it and prove the naysayers wrong. And some people take everything personally and are crushed by negativity.

    No matter, that teacher was wrong and cruel. It's way too early to tell how a person is going to turn out when they're only 10 or 11 anyway! Heck, people can change and amount to many things when they're 50. What a lousy teacher.

    You sure proved her wrong! You're beautiful, talented, smart, and you're certainly amounting to a lot!

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  5. Laura, you always make my day whether it's through your blog posts or comments!

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  6. I think there is a fine line between negative and straight - forward. In several occasions, negative comments don't amount to anything and they are purely meant to be harsh (5th grade teacher). Now the agent's case is different in my opinion. I think she was giving you a honest response. Hurtful, but sometimes, such criticisms are what helps us improve.

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  7. hey Saumya! I just got your comment about following....usually there's a tab there to follow, but I'm not sure why it didn't show up. Btw great post. I agree, taking something negative and turning it around into a positive thing is always the way to go...I can't imagine what I would be like if I took every negative thing said about me in the past and didn't try to find constructive criticism in there somewhere.

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  8. I'm so proud of you for proving her wrong and turning that negative experience around.. even though it was wrong of her to say anything like that in the first place! It just amazes me how people don't think sometimes :(

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  9. Saumya, negative feedback at times can spur us not only in the right direction but also make us realize our true potential. I am glad you are seeing the golden light around the dark clouds of negative feedback.

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  10. You're right, it's not what people tell us, it's the attitude that we take it with. However, I will say you if a person keeps getting negative feedback from one person, esp. if its a close person (parents or signif. others) it will definitely be crushing. The occasional negative comment from a teacher, boss, etc - that TOTALLY motivates me to prove them wrong!

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  11. Oh Soumya...that teacher was so mean to you...and I remember you guys moving to Atlanta...wow...it has been so long.

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