Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Older Dog Wisdom # 12: Surfing in the Car

Now that Tux is nearly the Alpha Dog in the family, he has one Alpha Dog duty to take from Grace, his sister and heretofore Alpha Dog, to complete his coup. Last on his list is the need to become the family’s surfer dog.

Three years ago, Grace started putting her front paws on the console between the front seats of the car. She quickly learned to lean into turns much like a motorcycle rider. She knows to lean back when I applied the brakes. It’s been her spot and her sport. She's a pro at it.

When she injured a front paw, she wasn’t able to surf the streets because it was too painful for her. Tux immediately tried to take over the position, but Grace was having none of that. She’d bump against him, knocking him to the side where he belonged. Even though she couldn’t surf, she wasn’t about to give up her last vestige of Alpha Dog status if she could help it.

I’m not sure what Grace’s strategy was this morning when she let him have the surfer’s spot. He proudly put his front paws on the console. and waited to surf. I’m pretty sure I heard a “nanner, nanner, nanner” escape his lips. Then, I realized there was a method to Grace’s madness. She knew exactly what she was doing. I pulled out of the driveway and as I started to make the turn into the street, Tux fell off not only the console but the back seat as well. He was dumped unceremoniously into the well behind the driver’s seat. At least his fall was cushioned by the stack of cloth grocery sacks I keep there. I pulled to the side of the road, and turned to check that he was okay and came nose to nose with Grace. She was ready to resume her position as car surfer extraordinaire. I swear I heard her whisper “nanner, nanner, nanner.”

Lessons Learned
As writers, we are often anxious to get our publishing career on the road as quickly as possible. We no sooner have our first book written than we start querying agents. We are assuming the role of accomplished writer long before we know what we’re doing very much like Tux assumed that he was ready to be surfer dog.

Like Tux, we need to practice and hone our craft first. We need to edit our manuscripts and then edit them again. We can’t just assume that because we read books and know published authors that we can accomplish what they have by watching them do it.

Tux learned, with a hit to his dignity, that surfing in the car is no easy task. It looks a lot easier than it is. It takes practice to stay in place through all the twists and turns taken from the house to our destination.

Receiving rejections from agents is our equivalent of taking that hit to one’s dignity and ego. It doesn’t mean we should stop writing. It means we should keep writing until our writing is what they want.

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