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Emotional Intelligence






'Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun.'

Albert Einstein


'Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent People Ignore.'

Albert Einstein






Before I get into this blog and because it’s relevant, I want to declare a very sincere thank you to the members of ASPA. In less than three weeks, over 200 people have joined. For those who have contributed and offered support, I must congratulate you. There are so many useful tips and comments already, and you have been extremely supportive of one another, which is exactly what Lee and I envisaged. This alone will hopefully cut down on some of your costs and if we have a community of people willing to share their expertise, then surely that will ensure the greatest success for all. 👏🏻

Rob.


Have you ever thought about your responsibilities as a writer? You are an intelligent, creative strategist and have responsibilities, not just for your characters and how the story is told, but for how you use words and what your core message is.


Having had a very busy life, I began to write during a period when I really wanted to shut everything out. I desired to get away from the noise of life and do something that was for me and about things I wanted to say.


All that changed when the first book was finished, and I realised I had to decide what was going to happen to it. Almost all of you will have been through this, and although it would not be true to say that it is the case for every author, Lee and I have spoken to so many who say that at first, they just wanted a book for themselves and to achieve that, they published it somewhere like Amazon or Apple.


Then, there are the people you asked to read it (most of whom you might know) and to leave reviews online. But somewhere around that point…the bug had bitten! You can’t help thinking that several people out there would enjoy your work, and the angst begins. This is one of many things in our professional work Lee and I help people with.


Personally, I knew that following publication, I would have to put up with the opinions of strangers and that some may be hurtful.


I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a few interesting things over the years, but for almost all my adult life, I have been in education and ultimately; I developed solutions for those who we would regard as most in need and on the periphery of society. Now, I have this unusual philosophy which some people don’t understand (and certainly irritates many) but it goes something like this: having created strategies and solutions for so long and sometimes for people with (what we call in the profession) ‘challenging’ behaviours and then helping them to fit into society, I am alarmed and worn out when I see adults exhibiting adolescent behaviours.


I call it the Eastenders syndrome. One character does something they shouldn’t and upsets or offend someone else. They then seek revenge. Someone else gets involved and they seek revenge too and the cycle starts all over again and yes, I personally know adults who live life like this.

By the way, this does not mean I always behave perfectly! 😛


So, what is this got to do with being an author?

Well, I think we have responsibilities. Being the age that I am, I come from an era when self-discipline was taught (even in schools) and it is incredibly useful in almost all situations although I can’t help thinking that in 2024 the phrase itself would upset some people. In the latter years of my career, all my staff, including me, took regular emotional intelligence training and tests and sometimes that could be quite amusing, and we had a lot of laughs. It tells you a lot about yourself and your core beliefs.


At some point, you will have to deal with people who are rude about your books, and I confess that I am one of those people who is bothered by it. Lee copes much better and has a thicker skin. You also need to consider the impact of what you write. Naively, I would have originally thought that there was nothing in my books that were offensive, but there are themes around forgiveness, putting other people first, love, integrity and honour and of course I cannot avoid writing about faith and religious conflict as the stories are set in the 16th century. And there’s no sex, although it may be implied. Those issues alone have been enough to upset some readers.


One of my direct competitors (although in a different league) is Philippa Gregory and her readers expect the great Tudor unwashed fumbling one another on every other page! 😊


Then there is the issue of dealing with other professionals. I have been a member of a national author’s society and many Facebook groups. I realised that when anybody asked for advice, a few people could be deliberately insulting. Purposely rude. Purposely trying to discourage them from writing and publishing and I seriously cannot understand why anybody would want to do that. It is one reason why Lee and I set ASPA up.


So, I’m not asking you to brace yourselves for a storm! You are the professional writer, and you should be in control of all these aspects of your work. However, it may be worth considering in advance how you are going to tackle these things. As I have said in an earlier blog, I rarely talk to people about my books. It is usually somebody else, maybe my wife who mentions it and I have even had someone in my home who instantly made fun, knowing nothing about the book or my background.

He is doing well and his fractured arm is healing.


Even though getting into arguments with reviewers is frowned upon, I would still expect you to defend your work. To you and others, it is a work of art and so much of yourself has gone into it. I believe every creative work has value and on that note; I do not worry about competitiveness. I am not sure there should even be such a thing for the arts. So, to illustrate this, I will finish with a little anecdote from my book ‘Be a Teacher! ‘


My career began as a teacher in a High School. I taught History, Art history and Art and Design. Classes were huge and Teaching Assistants hadn’t been invented yet. The kids almost all had Liverpool accents.


'One year in the mid-90s, in an attempt to introduce a twist to a gothic architecture module, I made the course all about Notre Dame. Not by coincidence, I should tell you, the Disney movie of Victor Hugo’s novel was out, which gives you an idea of how long ago this was. Money was tight at St Sodorff’s and the ridiculously named 'new block' in which I worked was falling to bits.


This was one of the original ROSLA blocks (now going back even further in time). This stood for ‘raising of the school leaving age’, which meant simply that more pupils equalled more buildings and so, hastily, prefabricated buildings were thrown up, presumably temporarily. When I was first interviewed many years earlier, they showed me the purpose-built art room (which was situated upstairs in that block), and I was impressed at the time. It was only when I had signed a contract that I was escorted to the downstairs dining room. This was to be my art 'studio' for the next 3 years, whether or not I liked it.


So, it was with some glee that eventually I moved into the real one and, despite the relative dilapidation of the building, I was also blessed with a large landing area which made an excellent gallery and exhibition space. With the aid of one of my brand-new year 7 classes, we built buttresses, stained glass windows and pointed arches that dominated the space. There were 4 classes in the year group totalling over 128 pupils, and I taught them all. The module comprised some architectural knowledge, historical perspective, but mostly understanding gothic styles and drawing and designing in that style. And, of course, we could use a little French as well.


Displaying student work is so much more important than people give it credit for. Within the art room, the walls and ceiling were mostly adorned with student work, but outside, I could temporarily showcase the work of a whole year group.


Like a little factory, as work was completed, I would invite each pupil out into the display area, give a little feedback on what they had done, and fix their masterpiece to the wall.


Of course I didn’t know all their names although I would come to. A small girl nervously came out with a piece of A3 paper in her hand,

‘ave I done shomethink wrung sher?’

She said in a voice twice the size of her uniform.


‘Absolutely not Alison!' (as that was the name on the masterpiece before me).

'Let’s have a look. Yes…yes…you’ve got it. This is definitely gothic, and your design is good too. Well done, you!’


Because these lessons were quite industrious, I had already eagerly turned to add her work to the others, but it was then that I heard this strange whimper. I looked around and she was crying.


‘No one has ever, e…v…er put my work up' and she pointed at the wall ‘look sher…look! It’s me picture on d' wall’ and she continued to blubber.


I knelt and reassured her that any work she completed and wished to be exhibited, would be.


Your work has great value. Don’t let the haters grind you down.


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4 Comments


I like the way you think. Reading this blog was my motivation to join. Every writer wants to touch as many hearts and minds as possible, but fame has its pitfalls as any celebrity will tell you. One of those is dealing with people who will never have a good word to say about your work. Maybe their issue is a matter of taste, maybe they have a legitimate viewpoint, or maybe they're just plain mean. Artists are sensitive people, so we bruise easily, but we can't feel responsible for the actions of others. Your story about Alison was poignant. Every artist wants to be recognized and appreciated, and a little show of support goes a long way.

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Rob Jones
Rob Jones
Mar 20
Replying to

Thank you Pamela. Great post 😊

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Haters gonna hate. Always. Nothing you can do but love them back and thus “silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” as the Bible says. “A harsh word stirs up anger” is also from the Bible. And when I am faced with being potentially embroiled in any one of a plethora of insidious Facebook arguments, I have to remember the old proverb, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Pointless to bicker. I can be the bigger man, consider if there’s ANYthing at ALL valuable in what they said, and move on.

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Replying to

Very nicely said, Aaron. This is something we can think about when we feel attacked. It is better if we just say our piece/peace in defense and move on.

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