Monday, February 15, 2016

Out of the Cold

I'm a firm believer in the power of a kind word.  Words, after all, are in my bloodstream, in my soul.  It's how I hope, one day, to make a living.  Still, this classic Peanuts strip kind of hits me where I live.  I can definitely relate to Snoopy, fellow writer that he is.

Shivering in the cold, Snoopy needs something... warmth, shelter.  One could, of course, wonder why he's sitting out there in the snow to begin with - he has a dog house - but for whatever reason, he is not availing himself of it.  Schroeder and Charlie Brown, seeing this, feel moved to offer comfort and warmth of a spiritual nature.  In their warm clothing, hats and mittens and jackets insulating them from the bite of the wind and snow, they speak their hearts - then go, leaving Snoopy to, essentially, wonder, "WTF?"

Snoopy doesn't need to be told, "Be of good cheer."  He needs a JACKET.  He needs to be brought inside.  He needs to find physical warmth, not spiritual consolation.  It would be easy to point fingers at the humans in the equation and say, "You should be taking care of him!  You see he's cold - do something, don't just SAY something!"

But that's not the way this works, this being out in the cold.

Really, what Snoopy needs is to get his furry butt off the ground and into some place more congenial for sitting.  As do we all.

It's easy and tempting to daydream about being published.  To envision the agent or the editor who will sweep in, like some knight out of a fairy tale, and scoop up our words, bestowing the boon of publication on us.  We may imagine ourselves as that fairy tale protagonist, a Goose Girl or Cinderella, a Little Match Girl, toiling away at work we'd rather not be doing - teaching, office managing, waiting tables - and waiting for someone to see past the dusty reality to find our true writer selves within.  We, like Snoopy, are sitting out in the cold, gazing wistfully at the published authors and rows of chosen manuscripts transformed into books, waiting for someone to invite us in to the warmth and shelter of our dreams.

But that's not the way this works.

Like Snoopy, we need to get off our furry butts and get moving, if writing is our heart's work.  We know all too well that it's not just a matter of writing and waiting.  There is work there, market research and searching and questing for the editor or agent who has space in their roster for us.  It may be more work than we feel we can handle  -most of us are, after all, already working one or more full time jobs to support our lives and families- but what's the alternative?  To sit, like Snoopy, out in the cold?

To wait for someone to come and tell us, "Be of good cheer" or "You're an awesome writer - just keep at it"?

No.  If we're going to get published, we have to do the hard work of it ourselves.  We need to get ourselves into that warm, sheltered place - even if we need to build it ourselves.  But don't fret too much.  Once we're moving, working, writing our hearts out, there will be people who see that and offer their words of support and encouragement.  And those words will actually mean something, paired with our own efforts.

Be of good cheer.  It's hard, but we can do it.  

Be of good cheer.

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