Monday, June 1, 2009

What La Popessa Can Teach You About Networking

Sister Pascalina was better known through the latter half of her life (and almost exclusively since her death) as "La Popessa." She was a very devout German nun who took her vows seriously. Even as a child, she showed a propensity toward saintly behavior, and discouraged debauchery. In one biography, it's said she once refused to bake her father's favorite pie because he had this habit of bathing outdoors for all to see. Mind you, this was in the early part of the 20th century and probably a common practice in the old country. Alas, the things you do for pie...

Fast forward several years, and Pascalina becomes the head of household under the pontificate of Pius XII. Her devotion to Pius no doubt equalled her feelings toward the Big Guy Himself. Many compare the relationship of Pascalina and Pius to a marriage, they were that close. If you wanted an audience with the Pope in those days, you had to get through Pascalina. Some dare to say she ran the Vatican herself in this time, thus earning the nickname.

Not everybody did get to His Holiness. Once a cardinal came to call, and was promptly kicked to the curb by the nun. She didn't much care for this man, and was a bit free with her words of dislike.

Fast forward to 1958: Pius XII dies, and a new pope is selected. The new boss is Cardinal Roncalli, that same holy man who incurred Pascalina's wrath years prior. Only now he is Pope John XXIII, and Pascalina is no longer head of household and needs a place to live.

What can we learn here? First and foremost: you don't know that the person next to you isn't going to be in a position to help you later on in life. You may think he's a bozo with no talent, but somebody else with power might not feel the same way.

How does this apply to publishing and networking? Consider this: maybe you get a rejection from an editor or agent of Podunk Productions, or maybe you read a book you don't like from Rinky Dink Press. You decide the world must know, so you blog and you Twitter and you Digg and you name names. You're cute, you're witty, and the peanut gallery is all thumbs-up and "Hell yeah haz cheezburger"! Click send and it's imprinted forever. It shows up in vanity Google searches - people know.

Let's say down the road you have a novel ready to go. You have dreamed about taking it to Big Shot, LLC and being offered a contract. Let's say this manuscript winds up on the desk of somebody who used to be an editor or agent with Podunk Productions or Rinky Dink Press, or even the BFF of that same person you maligned and...see where I'm going here?

Think carefully about what you write, in blogs and even in private forums. If you receive a rejection, I'm sorry. I don't like when it happens to me, either. I bite into a cloth, cuss silently, and go back to work, because I know no amount of online badgering and insult-tossing is going to help my career. I can tell you, too, rallying friends and relatives to carry picket signs in your behalf will likely not help your cause, either.

Learn from rejection slips, and don't consider it a failure if you get one. The only failure comes in giving up your dream. Yet be careful of how you react, lest you unwittingly damage your chances of achieving that dream.

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