Friday, December 5, 2014

Looking for the pony

My dad loves to tell this joke:
A pessimist and an optimist both wished for a pony for Christmas. When the big day arrived, the pessimist woke to find a beautiful horse under the tree. Negative person that he was, he immediately began to second guess his wish, worrying about how much work the animal would require, whether he would fall off while riding, and where he would keep his new pet. The optimist, on the other hand, was greeted on Christmas morning with a giant pile of manure. He promptly rolled up the sleeves of his pajama shirt and dove in, digging around while happily proclaiming, "There's got to be a pony in here somewhere!"

While I don't consider myself a full-on pessimist, I am certainly not an "Always look on the bright side of life" person either. I worry. A lot. And when something good happens, I have to shut up the voice in my head that's questioning when it will all fall apart. It's difficult to stay positive in an industry full of rejection, especially when you look around and see others enjoying success, and you can't help but wonder if it will ever happen to you. But I am buoyed by the support of the writing community, both locally and online. People lift each other up. And not in a "I'm only doing this in hopes that you will lift me up in return" sort of way. They are genuinely supportive. And it is hard not to let that seep into your bones and change your outlook on life.

My part time job involves helping community college students with disabilities. I often work with a small handful of adults in the nursing department, a competitive and cut-throat program that is designed to make sure you can handle the pressure of a demanding career. The group is constantly stressed out. And I know that it would be easy for them to quit, easy for them to say it's simply too difficult. But they don't. They show up every day, pour over their notes, and give every exam their all. They support each other in sweet little ways, like the guy who passes out sticks of gum or the woman who has been planning their celebration dinner after graduation. It inspires me. Just as my fellow writers inspire me.

Yesterday was my second pitmad contest. As I watched friends and strangers re-tweet my pitches from morning till night, my heart filled with joy. It wasn't a successful contest in terms of agent attention, and I'm not gonna lie - the pessimist in me was loud and clear, telling me I would never get my book published, and that I should just quit now because the road ahead is way too long and difficult. But this morning I'm listening to the optimist. Who encourages me to drive forward, insisting that eventually we will find that pony.

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