Advice That Left Deb Linda Red-Faced

Worst Advice I Ever Got:

Baby oil makes a great suntan lotion!

Um, no. Not so much. At least not if you’re fish-belly white, and tend to burn if you walk between the house and mailbox without a hat on a sunny day. But, according to my best friend at the time (she of the gorgeous Coppertone-esque tan, even though she was blond too), baby oil with a few drops of iodine in it was the secret to her golden summer loveliness.

Huh. Turns out your skin has to have actual melanin in it for any kind of tanning product to work. (Not to be confused with melatonin. Trust me, you won’t get a good tan no matter how much of that stuff you take. But you will sleep reeeally well. Don’t ask me how I know this.)

If your skin lacks the requisite amount of pigment, and you apply liberal amounts of baby oil to it before you plant yourself under the blazing Texas sun for a few hours, you will burn. Badly. As in, your skin will blister, and eventually the top layer will peel off. Not a good look for anyone, especially me. Not to mention, holy crap! Yee-owch! (I’d post pictures of this, but some of you may be eating.)

(Hmm. Maybe that’s what the iodine is for — preventing infection when you inevitably blister your skin off.)


Best Advice I Ever Got:

Focus on what you can do, and don’t stress the rest.

Sounds simple, huh? And yet so tough to put into practice sometimes, especially when it comes to the writing biz.

Sadly, I don’t even remember where I first heard it, because it wasn’t until I was in the middle of the whole publication process that it really started to make sense. Once you finish your book, so much of the process is out of your control.

The agent search — sending out queries, and waiting (incessantly refreshing your email) for a nibble. Once you get a request, waiting for the golden offer among all the painful rejections.

After you have an agent — waiting revision suggestions, then waiting for your book to be sold.

After your book is sold — waiting for edits, waiting for your cover, waiting for your release date . . . well, you get the picture.

Lather, rinse, repeat for each new book. There is always going to be something to stress about. Always.

But what if I self-publish? you may be thinking. Well, all I can say is, you can put a book out there, but you can’t make people buy it. And even if you give it away, you can’t make them read it. So, yeah, the main part of the process–connecting with readers–is out of your control too. Sorry ’bout that.

So, what to do?

Only what you can. Or rather, only what you can. (Better emphasis, that.) The stuff that is in your control, like working on your next project, or polishing your blogging skills, or connecting with readers by visiting their blogs and making yourself known.

There’s always something you can do that’s better than juggling stressballz and spazzing out while you wait for the other people involved to do what they have to do.

My advice? Do it.

So tell me, what are your stressballz? Do you like to juggle them, or do ignore them while you get on with other things?

Also, did you fall for that baby oil load of crap like I did? Did it work for you? (Warning: if it gave you a gorgeous tan, I might have to hate you.)

31 Replies to “Advice That Left Deb Linda Red-Faced”

  1. Oh, Linda…you are so wise to grab this notion by the, er, ball before IN A FIX is out in the world! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wrestled with this point. There is such a (mis)impression among all of us that the hard part is getting the book written and the agent to represent it–or even getting it sold. Well, the truth is that part–while certainly challenging–at least affords us a certain sense of control. Once the book is out in the world, as you pointed out, you can’t make people read it. And guess what–they may not want to. (*Insert Flick’s screaming mother on phone from A Christmas Story here*)

    Just like you said, we can get out there and connect with readers, and we can always be improving our craft. Those are the things we CAN do, we CAN control.

    And Oooo…Sorry about the baby-oil incident. Ouch.

    1. I think, before you’re published, it’s easy to think of the race to get a book out there in the world is a sprint–a burst of effort, and then tada! You’re done. What you don’t always realize until later is that the whole process is more akin to a marathon. With hurdles. *grin*

      And I LOVE Flick’s screaming mother in A Christmas Story–so funny!

      1. It really is more like a marathon, truly. I think that should be filed under things I wish I’d known (or figured out) about the process when I began.

        Is it too late to change my post?? 😉

  2. Being that I’m a redhead with pasty…er…porcelain skin, I’ve never been able to tan, and I learned early on that baby oil works as a conduit to magnify the sun’s rays into a skin laser, so yeah, I’m with you. SPF700 BABY!

    I’m always juggling stressballz, it seems. But deeper I get into this, the more I can handle AND the more stressballz I’m juggling, which means it’s spread around and no one thing is making me crazier than the others. (re-reading that makes me feel kind of crazy)

    1. One does at least tend to get better at juggling stressballz the longer one does it. And maybe we learn not to go as crazy if we happen to drop one now and then.

      And, yeah, I’m all about the high SPF now, and have been for years. So long, in fact, that I became deficient in vitamin D & had to go on mega-doses of it for a while. Sheesh. You just can’t win. *grin*

  3. My sister did the baby oil thing. She’d lay out on our roof in a bikini every morning, oil herself up, and go to sleep (she worked nights). She never moved when she slept, so she’d awake in the same position at roughly 3 p.m., then do it all again the next day on the flip-side. When she ran out of baby oil, she’d use salt water. She was always very bronze. (Now she’s all scarred from skin cancer removal.)

    I don’t generally have a problem with waiting. I have plenty to do in the meantime. (Also, I can’t talk about juggling stressballs without snickering like a Fenske, so it’s probably best I don’t go there.)

    1. Eek. Your poor sister. At least I found out early I couldn’t tan, and never tried repeatedly to achieve that glorious bronze glow. And it’s perfectly okay to snicker like a Fenske. It’s one of my favorite things to do. 😉

  4. Yeah, I got that advice too! ONly I was told to put a little iodine for coloring in it. Yeah, a few second degree burns on my shoulder later…

    I can usually ignore my stressballz, until they come out in other forms like sleep problems or losing my hair. LOL

  5. I, too, fell for the baby oil & iodine bs. I didn’t burn but I didn’t tan, either.
    Hey, Linda, I’m having trouble getting your regular blog to come up. And when I do, I can’t comment. Is it just me?

    1. Gaaah. Is your browser Internet Explorer, by any chance? It hasn’t been playing well with Blogger’s new threaded commenting system.

  6. This is wonderful advice. And important to remember! Maybe a tattoo on my forehead?

    As for the baby oil, oh man. I can’t even read that without cringing. I burn if only a drop of sunshine touches my unprotected skin, so I can’t imagine exacerbating that ny adding oil! Eek.

    1. Corollary advice for you: don’t tattoo anything on your forehead. You’ll just have to wear bangs for the rest of your life. 😉

  7. *smug* I was told the baby oil thing but didn’t fall for it *smug* I don’t tan though – my freckles do which just tends to make the rest of me look even paler.

    As for stress – I do try to get on with something else rather than worrying about things beyond my control.

  8. Of COURSE I followed the baby oil and iodine regimen when I was a teenager. And suffered the whole burn, blister, and peel results. But the iodine did stain my skin a little orange … kinda like a watered down version of QT. Which, by the way, I also tried. I’m talking ORANGE. Very, very orange.

    As for stress, pbbbbt. No thank you. Life’s too short to worry about stuff I can’t control.

    1. Glad I’m not the only idio–er, gullible person around here. And, yeah, I did the QT thing, too. Looked like and Oompa Loompa for days. But at least it didn’t burn. *grin*

  9. Me=white skin, bad burns, and lots of freckles. Baby oil is my nemesis! So true, Linda. There is always something to wait on and worry over, but it’s such a waste of time. I try to never stop and to keep moving forward. When the good stuff comes (in it’s own time),then we can pause to celebrate!

    1. Exactly! And that’s another thing–take time to celebrate the small victories along the way. It’s too easy to skip over the good stuff in our rush to get up the next rung of the ladder.

    1. So true! If the book you’re writing turns out to be The One, you’ll be spending an awful lot of time with it, reading it over and over again. Better make sure you really like it. 🙂

  10. Yes, I did the thing with the oil and got horribly sunburned. At the time I was working for pbs station and had agreed to be Cookie Monster for a special event. I was the only one who was short enough for the suit. Regretted it the next day when I had to wear the outfit for the event. Talk about sick.

    As long as I’m organized, can juggle the stressballs.

  11. Well, I once heard that if you put mayonnaise in your hair, it will make it shiny and soft. So, I did. And then I went out in the yard and practiced my cartwheels and other gymnastics moves (I lived on a farm rural Tennessee). Of course I was not suspecting my biggest CRUSH ever to be driving by with his father. On Monday he said, “WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR HAIR?” I was mortified! I had to wash my hair 10 times to get all that mayo out. Nightmare.

    And for my stress, I suck down an gigantic Diet Dr. Pepper–preferably Route 44 size. It is a horrible way to handle stress.

    1. Oh, no! How horrifying for you. But at least you can amuse us with it now. That’s something, right? *grin*

      Re your giant soda stress-relieving device: if I tried that, my bladder would pop!

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