Monday, May 7, 2012
Well, not really, but sometimes it is easier to blame others for your misfortune and relive the less pleasurable aspects of life rather than take what you can and move on. Lets examine a particular flaw in human nature and how it smacks us like a ball peen hammer to the forehead, polluting our lives like lead in the bloodstream. The particular flaw I am referring to is not being able to just move the freak on already and live a better life using the lesson learned.
Pretend you are a zebra in the wild. As you and your striped buddies stand around the watering hole taking your morning sips, you happen to see a lion lurking in the bushes a few yards away. Since you are an animal in the wild, your tendency is to only care about number one, so you keep this sighting to yourself. Besides, to your left between you and the big cat is Gerald, the zebra who is a little higher on the lady zebra pecking order than you. Hoping this will work in your favor, you do everything you can to drink your fill of water, not alert Gerald to the impending danger, and plan your exit from the lion once he attacks. So you stand and drink, trying not to laugh as you picture the eviscerated Gerald featured on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, when the unthinkable happens and the lion charges at you. Zebra senses kick in, you turn and run while pooping just a little, and beat feet to safety. Sure you wonder why Gerald didn't get taken down, but in the end you are glad to have your life and will be a little more careful next time you take a sip.
Pretend now you are a passenger on a commercial jet that has just departed. As your tons of aluminum, fuel, and human souls travel upward at 150 miles an hour into the sky, your pilot manages to steer the aircraft directly into a flock of geese, sucking several into the plane's engines, severely damaging thousands of precision moving parts. Thinking more of when you will be able to turn your laptop on rather than what that loud series of thuds were, you pay little attention to the sudden change in the pitch of the aircraft and the way the buildings seem to be getting bigger. Then on to your ears fall the terse words, "prepare for water landing," but you ignore them as a mistake since everyone knows airplanes do this thing called 'landing' since it happens on land not water. Just then you hear someone who was paying attention start to scream and you notice other passengers in the so called 'crash position' which usually means a crash is about to follow. Then you feel a distinct change in the smoothness of the flight and your laptop goes skidding off of your lap as more people begin screaming. Eventually the pandemonium of takeoff becomes bobbing and everyone is yelling to 'go here' and do that.' Some people listen to the 'here-that' instruction but not you. You are that person I read about who is holding up the plane's emergency evacuation because you are trying to get your carry on luggage out of the overhead bins so you can take it out to the wing to wait for the rescue boats to arrive. You have not learned the zebra lesson of moving past crisis, figuring out what is important, and moving the freak on already.
This is our human nature, to dwell too much in the recently departed moment, trying to somehow fix it in the past while ignoring the present that leads to our future. And for many this is the greatest threat to writing.
For the past three years I have become serious about my writing with extra effort expended in the last year. I am feeling confident about my work and know that with every word on paper I am honing my craft and yet still, I feel a lack of accomplishment which causes me to stare over my shoulder instead of looking straight ahead. About a month ago I was cut from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. After making it through the first pitch cut, I thought I would be cut at the excerpt review. Then I made it into the excerpt round and confidence got the best of me. When I got cut at the semi finals I was devastated. I spent about a week with my head up my ass, swearing I was going to give up writing forever. I chose the inconsiderate airline passenger route and paid for it dearly. I ignored how lucky I was to make it from 5,000 entrants to a pool of 250 quarter finalists. Instead I decided to ignore this validation of my sparking talent and declare it a death sentence. What I realize now, only as the constipation subsides from inserting my head into my ass, is that now is the time for me to think more like a zebra.
And now that I have, I am feeling better for it. Zebra thinking is the way to go. I have started a hand-edit of my novel and now have a greater appreciation for what I created. I know it is a worthwhile manuscript and deserves as many revisions as are required to bring it to the bookstore, and when it does hit the shelves, do not be surprised to see a dedication to a zebra inside the front cover.