A Writer's Blessings, or, You Gotta Be CrazyThis is still the Thanksgiving weekend, a good time to reflect on blessings. With my new book just out, I'm in a state of euphoria, remembering all the blessings of a writer's life.
Creativity, that building of worlds and creating of people.
The sudden enlightenment that fiction really is truth.
Swallowing your fear back down your throat and submitting to editors.
Getting rejected by editors.
The anxiety of waiting for your sales numbers, knowing low numbers can spell the end of your career.
Wondering why your editor is not responding to your email.
Wondering why your editor didn't let you know she was leaving to go to work for Microsoft in Timbuktu.
Watching your chosen genre fade away, and wondering if there's anything else you can write instead.
Okay, crazy woman, you say, hold it. That sounds more like Life in Hell. You're calling it a blessing?
Well, yes. And being a writer, I'd like to explain by waxing allegorical. Another way of saying I'm going tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was this guy who discovered a stick with a flattened end, and it occurred to him it might be fun to hit that little round rock with his stick to see how far it would go. So he stood beside the little round rock, hauled the stick back over his shoulder, and swung as hard as he could. Lo and behold, the rock rolled forward, kind of wobbling a little to the left, and came to a stop right at the edge of a little hole in the ground.
That gave him an idea. Wouldn't it be fun to see if he could knock the rock into the hole from a distance? So he picked up the rock and paced off a short distance, where he set himself up to take another whack at the rock. As the rock rolled straight for the hole, his heart began to race. It was going to make it! It was going to... going... going...
The rock veered left and rolled away from the hole. It had just enough momentum to crest a tiny ridge, and then it was on a downward slope, and it kept rolling, rolling, rolling, all the way down to the bottom of the hill.
Oh good grief. Okay, okay, so what he really said was full of asterisks, ampersands and pound signs. Anyway, he got the notion maybe this wasn't as easy as it looked. But maybe his equipment was a bit primitive. The rock wasn't perfectly round, and maybe too heavy. And the stick was a bit crooked. Maybe if he dug a hole in his beautifully groomed front lawn where there weren't any bumps or clumps, the ball would roll straighter.
So next thing you know, the guy was trying out substitutes for the rock. Nope, feathers were too light, and it sort of went up into the air and, well flopped to the side. He tried one stuffed with cloth. Same thing. Okay, half rocks and half cloth. Better, but still not right. Pretty soon, he discovered string, which he wrapped around a tiny core, while his wife was wondering why he'd spend hours wrapping rocks in string if he wouldn't help her wind her yarn into balls.
He kept on working, trying new things, making new sticks with wedge-shaped heads, and re-seeding and rolling his lawn. Pretty soon, every spare minute of his life was taken up with trying to hit little balls into holes with his latest stick design. His language had more and more funny typographical symbols in it, and his wife was seriously considering divorce, but he just knew one of these days he was going to get that rock into the hole on the first try.
So one day this guy went off to the day job, all the while dreaming of the weekend when he could get back to banging balls into little holes, and there in the cubicle across from him was that crazy woman writer. I mean, you'd think she'd have caught on by now. She sells a book and then turns around and spends every dime she makes promoting it so she can sell another book and spend every dime she has on that one.
But just to be sociable, he asked, "Hey, how's it goin'?"
Well, she told him. Seems she had some godawful number of stories out at bunches of places, not that the names mean anything to him, and for some reason he couldn't comprehend, some editor wanted her to re-write her Cinderella Story yet again, and not only that if they did buy it this time, all they'd give her for it was a few thousand dollars. She'd been working on that story for three years, for crissakes. For a few thousand dollars? IF they buy it?
"I don't get it," said the guy. "If it's all that hard, I don't understand why you keep putting yourself through it."
"Sure, you do," she answered. "You play golf, don't you?"
So the guy bought her latest book. Yeah, he thought, here's a woman who understands the importance of golf.
And that brings me to the best blessing of them all. I get to indulge in my obsession sitting in my nice comfy chair inside a nice warm house. I don't have to be out there in the freezing rain whacking sticks against little white balls.