Apparently I made a metaphor Friday and didn’t even know it. In case you missed it, here it is:
Every time he dropped his line in the water – and I do mean every time – he pulled it out with a fish attached to the end. At one point, a fish jumped out of the water to get the worm hovering just above the surface. The fish were all too small to keep, so we practiced the catch-and-release method, although I ended the excursion with a serious craving for some good ol’ fried fish like my dad used to make. I tried to fry fish once. It didn’t go well. I don’t think I’ll try it again.
Anyway, he had so much fun fishing that a couple of weeks later, I bought him a life jacket and took him out to Union Grove Lake to try his luck again. We were there for ten minutes before he proclaimed to anyone who would listen (namely, me, as I was the only person within earshot) that he was bored and he wanted to go home and fishing at Aunt Sandy’s was way more fun. See, fishing at Aunt Sandy’s had spoiled him. Fishing at Aunt Sandy’s showed him what it’s supposed to be like, minus the ideal of actually getting to keep them. Fishing at Union Grove demonstrated the reality of fishing – endless hours spent staring at each other while fighting the temptation to reel your line in and cast it out again somewhere else because maybe the fish are biting “over there.”
Until the lovely Miss T. pointed it out in her comment, I didn’t even realize what I’d written. I had to go back and reread the whole post to find out what the heck she was talking about and as I did so, a wonderful thing happened: I discovered that in writing one thing, I’d actually written another. I thought I’d simply been recounting a fishing story, but it was much more than a simple fish tale.
Go on, read it again. Only this time, take out the word fishing and replace it with the word writing. My humble little fishing story sounds an awful lot like a writer’s process, doesn’t it? You write a story and you let first one friend and then another read it and naturally, they love it, so you show it to a few more people, who also love it. Soon your tale has made the rounds of your entire circle of friends, family, and acquaintances, all of whom are in raptures over your literary
skill genius. What’s a genius like you to do with your tale? Why, publish it, of course!
You draw up a list of agents and publishers and, armed with your manuscript, the support of those near and dear, and a crap-ton of caffeine, you unleash your queries on the world. And then you wait. And wait. And while you’re waiting, you wait some more. Beginning to sound familiar? Writing was much more fun when the feedback was instant and glowing, you find yourself thinking. Why am I bothering with this querying nonsense again?
The reason, dear reader, is the same reason I found my hands covered in fish slime a few years back – the reward was worth it. (Yes, there is another fish story coming.) See, Seymour and I took a trip down south (and no, I don’t mean Missouri – we remained in Iowa, aka God’s country :)) to visit his aunt and uncle and go fishing with his cousin, whom I’ll call Fred (What? It’s a good name!). Fred took us to a local pond that was well stocked with fish and after just a few hours, we’d caught our limit. Not wanting to be a pest or be thought of as a girly girl, I baited my own hook and unhooked my own fish, only requiring help a couple of times. Seymour told me later that I really impressed Fred, who didn’t think I’d be willing to get my hands dirty. But you know what? The awesome fish dinner that followed was well worth the price of having slimy hands for a couple hours. I had fun, I caught a bunch of fish, and there are worse things in this world than fish slime.
I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly my point is here. My point is simple: Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. If being a published writer is what you truly want (and that is my ultimate goal, to make a living by my writing), you have to get your hands dirty. You have to be willing to do the work. And you have to be patient, above all else. Rejection and waiting are part of the deal, so learn how to handle it. Query rejection has so far bothered me a lot less than I thought it would, which I suppose is a good thing. But after having had a nibble, I’m finding patience harder to come by. I read once that when you pray for patience, God gives you opportunities to be patient. I find that I have more opportunities to be patient these days than I know what to do with, and most of them have nothing to do with writing.
Anyway, my point. Don’t be afraid to get covered in fish slime. There are worse things in the world, and the reward is well worth it in the end.
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