You are driving down the highway to share a Sunday picnic with the family. The sun is high in the heavens, the kids aren’t fighting, and no one turns off that favorite song you play fifteen times a day. Then from out of nowhere, BAM, the front axis is cracked by a pot hole the depth of the Grand Canyon.
It’s raining. You’ve been shopping all day. You pick up the kids, drive into the take out window of your favorite fast-food joint, and load up on high carb, low nutrition dollar bargains. You are wet and tired. All you want to do is make it home before they implode and start throwing cheese doodles all over the back of the station wagon, the RV or your sedan.
Leaving the fast food joint you look both ways, see that distant puddle, and remembering your cracked axis, drive around it, and SPLAT, that sheet of water on the other side of the puddle covers a pot hole the width of the Indian Ocean.
Translated into your life and hard times as a writer? You finish that first mad draft. The rush makes you feel giddy with excitement. You put her through a quick spell check, do a fast re-read and carry it off to the Critique Group.
The fifth and next to the last draft is finally revised, edited and ready for publication. You click send, and your first-born travels through cyber space to Agent A.
The sixth, and next to the last rewrite is polished until it shines like your grandmother’s china cabinet after she puts the 1,500th layer of bee’s wax. “Don’t use that Pledge stuff honey. Good old fashion bee’s wax, and muscle is what you need.”
You heed your grandma, ’cause what are grandmas for, if not good advise? You polish your WIP, do another query, and send it, and ten sample pages off to Agent B.
Down the road you travel, one book can use up more of your energy-saving gas than an entire fleet of taxis in New York City. It devours paper and printer ink, and it occupies copious space in your hard drive, external back up drive, two flash drives, and a CD for good measure.
Your Critique Group was less than enthusiastic the first five times, and by draft number ten, they are secretly wishing you crack your axis and miss a meeting.
Agents A, B, and C, don’t send a rejection. They remain white noise on the world-wide web. Agents D, E, F, and G send form rejections, probably written and mailed by an intern.
By this time, you have hypothetically, cracked your axis, blown three good tires, bent one rim, scratched a fender and scrapped the underside of the engine and still, CRASH, another pot hole swallows you, your car, the kids and the groceries. It takes a tow truck and the jaws of life to get you to safety.
Wanna give up driving? Think it’s time to turn in your license and take the bus?
Do you secretly believe that writers are plagued by an inordinate number of pot holes, pit stops, dead ends and electrical storms that short-circuit their GPS on a dark, lonely highway?
Ready to give up, cave in and find a real profession, hobby, craft, pastime or vocation?
Maybe you think being a struggling painter might be easier? All it took Van Gogh was one lousy ear, being dead for decades, another hundred years for his bones to rattle in the grave, and he sold at Christie’s for millions.
As many New Yorker’s have discovered, there is no solution to pot holes. Each winter they open up like the graves in a horror story, or the creaking door on Inner Sanctum.
Each spring the Highway Safety Commission, blocks off funding, and little trucks roll onto the highways and byways and fill in the little suckers with fresh black tar.
Being mindful of law suits, the Mayor often announces that our Safety Patrol will post little yellow flashing lights at the opening of said pot holes to warn off unsuspecting drivers.
Each day another group of little trucks deliver the yellow lights. Each night the kids swipe them, and along with the STOP signs and STREET SIGNS, they adorn the kid’s bedrooms like coat hangers.
No, there is no solution for pot holes in New York or anywhere else.
A solution for your writer’s life? STOP.
Yes, I said stop. Sit down and read what you have written. Read it a loud to yourself, and listen.
Since you can’t trust the Mayor of New York, the Highway Safety Commission, or dear old granny … trust you.
When you slow down and learn to trust yourself … amazing things can happen.
Or you could drive into the sunset, ride off a cliff, and never be seen or heard from again.
How about you? Do you really think there is a conspiracy of nature, and college interns trying to wreck your dreams?
fOIS In The City
Note: Any viable solutions to pot holes should be mailed directly to your local mayor.