So I've got this four year old and as much as I spouted off during my pregnancy about how my child wasn't going to be a big old TV-watcher, she loves TV. Does she watch a gratuitous amount of television? Probably. But I'm not that worried because she's pretty darn smart and most of the time the television is merely background noise to the other fun stuff we happen to be doing together (like crudely fashioned nail art--hey, I'm a writer, not an artist).
Anyway, I've been subjected to some pretty annoying, mind-numbing, vacuous childrens' shows. (By the way, my top five someone-should-be-in-prison-for-creating-this-and-subjecting-parents-to-these shows are Special Agent Oso, Strawberry Shortcake, Wonderpets, the Cartoon Network version of Scooby Doo and Special Agent Oso and yes, Oso made the top 5 twice for reasons I won't get into here). A couple of weeks ago, my daughter discovered the Doodlebops which is apparently a Canadian children's show featuring three very colorful singing, dancing characters. It's like a cross between Imagination Movers and Barney. It's been on in our house almost once a day since she discovered it. My fiance blames me but he was the one who accidentally put on channel 233 instead of 232 in a Saturday-morning-pre-coffee stupor and thus subjected us to our first ever episode of the Doodlebops.
(Bear with me, this really does have something to do with writing).
So in the beginning of every Doodlebops episode, before the Doodlebops leave their Doodlebop home to go on their latest adventure, the character Moe has to pull on this rope hanging from the ceiling. In every episode, the other DBs tell him not to pull it but he always does and he always gets a bucket of water dumped on him. And in every episode he gives a different reason for pulling the rope like, "Ropes are made to be pulled" or "I can't NOT pull it" or some BS like that. Anyway, yesterday we watched an episode where his reason for pulling the rope (in spite of knowing he would get water dumped on his head) was:
"What if something amazing happens?"
Lately I've had some discussions with other writers about how much the business end of writing (i.e. publishing as opposed to writing) blows. I mean think about it. You write this book. This book that you spend months or years on. It's like one of your kids. You're passionate about it the way people are passionate about their first love. You want to get it published. So you write the hardest letter you've ever written (a query) and you send it to a couple hundred agents who take their sweet time responding to it. Most of them reject it. You keep querying. You wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait some more. Oh and did I mention that you wait? Yeah, you do. You wait and then you wait some more. And just when you think the waiting might be over, you wait just a little longer and a little bit longer after that. You get the point.
If you do finally get an agent, chances are you'll have to make revisions. You make revisions and you wait some more for your agent to approve them. Then you go on submissions. And you wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You wait until the non-writers around you think you're the victim of some kind of bizarre pyramid scheme or some other scam that somehow involves people taking your book, promising to do something with it and then never contacting you again (I mean are they using the pages of your manuscript for cheeseburger wrappers in some corner steak shop in the big city or have they just fashioned some kind of suspenseful, novelty toilet paper out of it?) because for the love of all that is holy, NOTHING should take THIS long. I mean really. Then you wait a little longer. And after that, you wait.
(I know, you're thinking what's this got to do with the Doodlebops? Again, bear with me.)
So then if you're lucky enough to find an editor who loves your book and wants to publish it, they've got to convince a bunch of other editors that it's a good risk and worth publishing. Then they've got to consult with the sales department and legal and probably a few other departments I don't even know about. You know, it's a wonder that any book has ever been published, come to think of it.
And of course, all this time, you're waiting. You ask yourself, "Am I mentally ill?" and the jury is still out on that one. Then you ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this to myself? Why does my heart jump when my phone rings? Why do I still secretly hope it's my agent calling about a possible book deal when I KNOW it's probably just my mom?" or "Why do I keep querying? Why do I check my email every five seconds? Why do I hold my breath every time I open an agent's email when I KNOW it's probably just a rejection?"
And the answer is: BECAUSE WHAT IF SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENS?
What if you open that email and it's an agent offering you a contract? What if your phone rings and it's NOT your mom? What if it really is your agent and she tells you someone wants to buy your book? It could happen. It does happen. We have bookstores (and Amazon) filled with books by people that these things actually happened to. Something amazing happened to them.
Because, like Doodlebop Moe, they kept pulling the rope. Even though the odds were against them. Even though they'd been doused with the bucket of water every single day for months or years (more likely years). This is a hard concept to explain to non-writers sometimes.
Out of four years of watching television for children, that is possibly the coolest thing I've seen. (Of course Yo Gabba Gabba's "Don't Bite Your Friends" and "Party in My Tummy" songs were immensely helpful). So thank you Doodlebops for encouraging me to pull the rope a little longer and wait for that elusive book deal.
How about you guys? Where do you stand on rope-pulling? How much waiting have you done, if any? What are your votes for worst kids' shows ever?