Although my quest continues to find a literary agent for my first novel, rejections can be extremely disheartening. I am not giving up, by any means, but merely trying to maintain a sense of humor through a very lengthy process. Please feel free to read the post below to the tune of The Sounds of Silence.
The Sound of Querying
Hello rejection, my old friend
I’ve come to tolerate you again
Because revisions softly creeping
Left their seeds while I was sleeping
And the edit that was planted in my brain
Within the bounds of rewrites
In restless dreams my plot was formed
All my characters were transformed
Into people I would love to know
Except the serial killer, he can go
The words came to me in the wee hours of the night
I couldn’t write
I hoped my phone was recording
And in the morning light I heard
Two or three hundred added words
Words I don’t remember speaking at all
I’m glad my smart phone has voice recall
I was recording things while I was practically asleep
My thoughts were deep
I knew I had to query
Fool, said I, you do not know,
Agents like the answer NO
Without reading your full manuscript
The whole story, they completely skipped
And my words, were never fully read, but instead
They landed on the bottom of the slush pile
Beta readers said it’s great
Into a movie it should be made
But you’re not allowed to tell agents that
You can only hope they want to chat
And the sad thing, although I was told my writing was outstanding
It still means nothing
It just echoes in the sounds of querying
I am usually a happy person. I can find the positive in most situations but when I get sick in the summer, all bets are off. I can tolerate heat but humidity is my sworn enemy and the combination of humidity and sickness for me is too much to bear.
It hit me in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Being a person who is hot all the time, waking up at 3:00 am feeling extremely chilled is never a good way to start the day. I had a fever of 101 but I thought I should go to work anyway. I lasted an hour. I came home, spent the day on the couch and was grateful that Monday was my day off so I could battle this bug properly by getting some much-needed rest.
I slept like an Olympic sleeper on Sunday night and woke up Monday feeling like I had won the battle. I was wrong. By Tuesday morning, the fever had gone but the bug had relocated itself in my throat and my chest. Once again, I thought I should go to work anyway. I lasted four hours. By the time I came home, I felt like I was swallowing razor blades, the fever had come back and I sounded like a man.
I don’t get sick very often but when I get sick, I get sick. It is now Thursday evening and, as I write this post, the sore throat is almost gone but the cough is not. The germs that are still residing in my body have decided to move from my chest to my head and they have plugged both of my ears so I feel like I am living in a fishbowl. I have moved on from the age-old “feed a cold, starve a fever” to the “drink some wine and take some Alleve”. Hopefully tomorrow morning is the day I wake up and find out this bug has left the building!
I have been thinking about my parents a lot lately. For a person my age, it is sad I have to talk about how they used to be because they were taken far too early, both victims of the serial killer known as alcoholism. I have written many heartfelt posts telling the tale of what my perspective was like growing up as a child of alcoholic parents. But the more I read those posts again, and cried again, I realized I had been doing them a grave injustice.
So, I went back to the beginning – back to the days before that serial killer lurked in the shadows of my house, back to the days when life was great and back to the days when no elephant existed in any room in our home.
My mom and dad were a lot of fun. My brother and I had many parties at our family home and my parents would remain in their bedroom allowing us full access to the house to host our friends. But at the end of the night, the number of our friends watching TV with my parents in their room far outweighed the number of our friends in our living room. Those were my parents.
They played strip ping-pong with the neighbors. They ran naked from the neighbors’ sauna to roll in the snow and then back to the sauna. They enjoyed life, they made the most of the good times and they truly loved each other. My mother summed it up completely in the caption of this photo of the four of us, “Happiness is Port Carling”.
When I began to think of what they were like as a couple, I couldn’t help but smile remembering how my dad used to look at my mom. If my mom was within arm’s length, his hands would make contact with whatever part of her he could reach. He would pat her bum as she walked by him. He would kiss her every chance he got. And when he grabbed her hand, I could see his hand physically squeezing hers several times in a sworn gesture of being smitten by her. It was all about being able to touch each other, just to remind each other that they were there for the right reasons.
I had long forgotten those moments. I was so marred by the effects alcohol had on their relationship I failed to remember the beautiful connection they had with each other.
And now that I have blinded myself to the painful memories, I will embrace the images of their fingers intertwined without realizing they were holding hands. I will cling to the thought of how my dad just wanted to be close to her. And I will forever hold close the knowledge that a simple touch from someone who means so much can change everything about your day.
After so many daily thoughts about so many things that don’t matter, I finally realized…..these are the things I should remember.
“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” ~ Steve Jobs
“NO” is the most common word to ever come out of a child’s mouth. It’s an instinctual response to any question or suggestion for anyone under the age of three and that response is never second-guessed. So why now, when we have the ability to reason and make an informed decision, based on what is best for us, do we find it so hard to utter that simple word and mean it?
“No” is a complete sentence. It does not require any justification, nor does it need an explanation. It is a succinct and pithy response that needs no further words to make its meaning understood.
For us to procure as much happiness as we can from each day we are afforded in this lifetime, we must learn to make our decisions by putting our happiness first. We must set boundaries for ourselves and embrace and listen to the most important voice we will ever hear – our own. It’s human instinct to want to please other people by saying yes, but how much of ourselves are we giving up by agreeing so quickly and not allowing that inner voice to offer its opinion.
If the answer in your heart is ‘no’, find a gentle way of not accepting the offer or challenge and let that three-year old voice in your head speak for both of you. That voice is giving you some sage advice. You should take it.
Time has a wonderful way of changing our perception of certain points in our lives. I ran into a person yesterday and just the slight glimpse of that person reminded me of a decision that was basically made for me many years ago, but it was a decision I should have been wise enough to make myself.
I was a participant in a friendship I knew was toxic. So many of the things this friend did should have been glaring beacons that the road we were headed down was hazardous. We had navigated the small bumps along the way but, when the test car picked up speed towards the wall, I should have hit the brakes. Instead, the car ricocheted along the track towards its inevitable end. Thankfully, this third-party I saw yesterday unknowingly shoved me out of the car just before it hit the wall. Although this gesture was not made with any concern for me, it nonetheless saved me from years of invisible pain.
Somewhere during our friendship, I had taken a back seat. I had ignored my inner voices and let the reckless driving continue while I did nothing to stop it. When I did finally speak up, the third-party had accused me of being unfair and told me my actions were very disappointing. The only thing that was disappointing was the fact that I had not spoken up sooner. Narcissism aside, some of the things I bore witness to could be a plot in a soap opera. The lies were just the beginning. There were threats, blackmail, an exchange of money and flagrant manipulation. It was incomprehensible.
The fact that my friend seemed unconcerned about the atrocious behavior and the third-party seemed to condone it through their ignorance and unwillingness to hear the truth was enough to make me appreciate the fact that they pushed me out of that relationship. The betrayal had caused enough of a divide in our friendship that I was able to stand on one side of the chasm that divided our relationship and truly see what was on the other side.
Every so often, circumstances make me look backwards into that void. Life has marched on for the three of us, some lives have been looked upon more favorably than others, but we all still bear our own scars of that crash test car.
I sat at the end of his bed in the hospital, watching him struggle for his last breath and finally giving in to what seemed to be inevitable. It was twelve years ago….over a decade….more than one tenth of a century….and yet it feels like I was just in that hospital room yesterday.
Since I posted the poem on the anniversary of her passing, two days ago, that I wrote for my mom, I will do the same for my dad without using more words than necessary to honor his memory. I wrote this poem and read it to a crowd after a birch tree was planted and a plaque was revealed on a rock in his memory at our local park. I miss you dad. xx
As Seasons Change
We give these gifts of nature in your name,
to forever keep you near.
To take root in a place you kept close to your heart,
and represent the things you hold dear.
Your rock will remind us to always be strong,
and to remain solid in the lives we love.
And follow in the examples you gave us in life,
as you look upon us from above.
Your tree will remind us to accept the changes,
of seasons that come and go.
As the tree becomes bare at times in our life,
new leaves will blossom in time to show
that nature is beautiful and life has a season,
but all things do come to an end.
And with each change and leaf that is lost,
family and friendships help to mend.
Branches sway in the winds of time,
and your whispers will be heard in the breeze.
Your memory lives on in the nature around us,
in the air, the rocks and the trees.