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Friday, November 4, 2011

"What if something amazing happens?"

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?"

Indeed.

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?

17 comments:

  1. Great post! I'm yanking on that rope as hard as I can :)

    And Oso is on my list too, but that's because I can't get that dang theme song out of my head. It's joined by Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction, Super Why, and Wipeout...Yes I include Wipeout because my son can watch it all day long while jumping off the furniture, or 'wiping out' and he thinks it's the greatest show on earth while I find myself putting the couch cushions back on more than I'd like to.

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  2. Haha, yes great post. Sigh on the getting dumped on with a cold bucket of water, though. BUT it's so true, the "What if something amazing happens" part is what keeps us trying.

    And, uh, been there done that on the inane children's shows. It does end one day. Hang in there. :)

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  3. (Looking at my watch) still waiting :(

    I'm not real good at the patience thing sometimes!

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  4. Excellent post, Lisa.

    I have not yet begun to pull the rope, but I will. Oh, yes, I will. And I'll take that bucket of water, too.

    Worst kids show, ever? That's hard. There are so many bad ones out there. I only watched a piece of it here or there, but I think 'Teletubbies' gets my vote, just for the concept: TV for infants.

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  5. Of course, once your daughter is older, you can introduce her to the really cool kid's shows. Like Phineas and Ferb. And Avatar.

    My kids watch cool tv. :)

    Also, you forgot to mention that,sometimes, we need to unravel the rope, re-weave it, and then pull on it again, even though it's still in the same spot, even though it's still attached to the same bucket of water. Because maybe if I add a strand of red, it will help the amazing thing happen. :) (Splash.)

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  6. Oh. My. Goodness.

    Sometimes I babysit a girl who will only watch the Doodlebops and the Wiggles. It's so sad that I knew exactly what you meant about the rope. (Though, I never thought about it that way!)

    Wow. That show might never be the same for me again. :D Great post!

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  7. Excellent comparison between Moe pulling the rope and the hope of writers. Pulling the rope is a great symbol for "What if?" And I'm all for rope pulling, even though I haven't even heard of the Doodlebops before this post. Every so often television offers something interesting. : )

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  8. Very timely post for me personally. I have to constantly find a reason to not give up, to keep moving forward, to pull that darn rope. I've been waiting a good long time just to find an agent. I'm not there yet, but I'm not giving up either. I saw how long you waited, how patient you were, and how it paid off. And it gives me hope that it could work out the same way for me if I'm really lucky. I swear, you've got the patience of Job! I hope I'm not tested as you've been.

    As for those kid's shows, well, my kid's almost a grown man now, but when he was a tyke, I abhorred Barney. His annoying voice & all those stupid songs drove me insane. What's worse is I still remember the tunes & lyrics to a lot of those songs. Ugh!!

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  9. Awesome post and great analogy! I'm going to continue pulling on that rope...

    The worst kids' programme ever to me just has to be In the Night Garden. I mean, I'm surprised those misshapen blobs with eyes don't give kids nightmares! Someone must've been sky high on something to have dreamt up Iggle Piggle, who makes me shudder every time I see it!

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  10. that g.d. rope. I hate the rope. (I love the rope.) gah. *keeps staring at rope*
    And I agree with Jeff and Nancy. Barney and Telebutties (i mean, teletubbies) are so bad, they're strangely mesmerizing. Until you feel like burning out your own eyes afterwards.

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  11. I waited 24 years, then made it happen myself. I just wanted my sons to know that hard work counts for something in the end. It was icing on the cake when I sold my 2nd book to a publisher. Wait, wait, wait. Yes! Because good things can happen.

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  12. that's why I write. that's why I'm here. that's why I hate to go to sleep at night because at any moment something amazing might happen and I don't want to miss it. Great post.

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  13. Me again. Just a quick note that I've featured you on my Writer Wednesday, so if you see a couple of new followers, well, you know where it came from! :)

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  14. This is a great way to put it. I love it. I've pulled the rope 20 times on my current MS and I'm still pulling. I think I'll put "What if something amazing happens?" on a post-it on my mirror. 'Cause one of these days, it will!

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  15. That made me laugh out loud! "Don't Bite Your Friends" - now there's a song!

    I'm so sick of waiting, sometimes I forget I'm even doing it. Life just go on and on and on.

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  16. Thanks everyone! By the way, I hate the rope too but I'll keep pulling it if you guys do!!!!

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  17. What an inspiring post! Very creative, and I agree, I will keep pulling on the rope as well. Great post!

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