Life List Club Friday – Sometimes, You Have to Kiss a Frog

Wow! It’s December already! That means The Life List Club is closing in on another milestone. December 30th marks our 6-month anniversary and you’re all invited to party with us as we celebrate a few more accomplishments! We’d love for you to join us in sharing your accomplishments, too.

Three months ago all of us writers gave away some really amazing gifts to our members and guess what? We’re doing it again! Mark your calendar for The Life List Club’s 6-month Milestone Party on December 30th! If you missed our 3-month Milestone Party, you can visit it here to get an idea of how we rock ‘n roll!

In the meantime, I am so happy to have my friend, Pam Hawley, here from Hawleyville to entertain you, while I’m posting over at David Walker’s place. Pam’s going to prove to you why kissing a lot of frogs helps you find more than one prince.

After having your fun with Pam, don’t forget to ‘hop’ over to David’s where I’m telling some secrets that will keep you sane! Have fun!

Take it away, Pam –

Growing up, I loved fairy tales just as much as the next girl. The first movie I saw in the theaters was Snow White. I wanted to be like Cinderella and have a little mouse army who made me glittery dresses and sang songs. I wished I had Rapunzel’s long golden hair.

But even then, something about those fairy tales bugged me. Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel spent a lot of time daydreaming and singing sappy songs about how one day their princes would come. Eventually, those princes did gallop in with their perfect grins and their white steeds.

Where the heck was the gumption in these girls, anyway? Snow White and Sleeping Beauty couldn’t even get out of bed without some guy kissing them. Why didn’t Cinderella just take that pointy slipper of hers, chase down that wicked stepmother, and well … you know?

I always liked the princess who kissed the frog a little better. At least in that story, she did the kissing to get to her happy place rather than just lay back and let the man do all the work. She had to pucker up, look a warty little critter right in the eye, and overcome a fear – even if that fear was just of smooching something ugly.

Maybe my fondness for chicks who take control of their own lives is why I’m so good at kissing frogs.

No, I’m not talking about the guys I dated in high school or my ex-husband, and I’m certainly not talking about my current partner. He’s a prince and he doesn’t have warts. I’m talking about learning to embrace the ugly in my life and see the beauty under the rough surface.

In my writing life, the monster under my bed has always been rejection. If I work hard, do my job to the best of my ability and my boss tells me what I’ve accomplished isn’t good enough, it’ll sting. But I’ll get over it. My job is what I do, not who I am. My writing, on the other hand, IS me. It is my heart’s work, my dream, and the trait I value most in myself – my creativity – brought to life. That means that I’ve always seen someone rejecting it as the ultimate epic fail.

So for years, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Short stories and half-finished novels filled my hard drive and my head. But they never ventured outside my front door. I was Sleeping Beauty snoozing, or Rapunzel pacing about in her tower. Maybe I was Cinderella sweeping floors and humming songs with my furry friends. I was sitting back and daydreaming, waiting for my prince to come. He was an imaginary publisher who would ride in on a white steed, flash me that supermodel smile, and say “Hey, so-and-so told me about your brilliant writing. Come with me, and I’ll make you famous.” I’d climb on the back of his white horse and gallop off into the sunset to a land of publishing deals and fat checks and movie offers.

It took me a long time to realize that he was too busy sucking face with girls who ate poisoned apples to mess with me. If I wanted my fairy tale, I was going to have to go frog-hunting.

So I puckered up and started smooching. I took a course in marketing my work, and beganKiss the frog sending my writing out to various publishers. Web sites, literary journals, e-magazines, anthologies, you name it. I became a frog-kissing fool.

I’m not saying these publishers were warty toad-like critters. I’m sure some of them were quite attractive. But they represented my worst fear, which was putting my work out there to be rejected. I was as scared of this as any princess would be of puckering up for an amphibian.

My first rejection came when I was a thousand miles away from home, attending a conference for my day-job. I had a break between conference sessions, and had gone to the cyber-café to check my email. One of the messages awaiting me was a “no thanks” for a story I had considered a masterpiece. I wanted to cry. I wanted to curl up in my bed surrounded by my partner, my ferret and my cat and stay there sulking all day. I wanted to kick something.

But I could do none of the above. My home was a thousand miles away, my only nearby solace a sterile hotel bed with scratchy blankets. I was surrounded by other conference-goers who would look at me funny if I sat there and bawled until mascara ran down my cheeks. I had a half hour to get myself together and meet my boss and co-workers for dinner.

I had closed my eyes and kissed the frog. When I opened them, there was no prince, just the warty face of all my fears staring back at me.

For me, that was a moment of truth. I had gotten my first rejection under the worst possible circumstances, when I was far away from all my comforts and securities. I could decide this rejection thing hit too hard and hurt too bad, or I could keep going. In other words, I could decide that frog kisses tasted too much like flies and worms, or I could pucker up and go off in search of another amphibian.

I’m glad to say I kept smooching. To be honest, many of those frogs still leave a wormy taste in my mouth. But I’ve also found a few princes. To be a writer who has been submitting work for less than a year but has two publishing credits to her name so far and is looking at a third is nothing to sneeze at. If I’ve had to leave a trail of toads with lipstick on them behind me to get there, so be it.

To reach your goals, you can’t sit back and wait for the prince to ride in and carry you away. You have to pucker up, kiss the frogs, and see what happens.

So what about you – smooched any amphibians lately?

Pam HawleyIn addition to short fiction, Pam Hawley writes humor pieces and is working on her first novel, which blends the creepy and the funny by bringing a brutally murdered “player” back to life as a naked ghost. Her short story “A Wingding and A Prayer” appeared in the July issue of eFiction  Magazine (available at http://www.efictionmag.com). Her short horror fiction, “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” will appear in The Spirit of Poe Anthology available at http://literarylandmarkpress.blogspot.com. When not working, writing or in the gym, Pam can most likely be found curled up on her couch reading, hanging out at her family pub Hawley’s in Baltimore, or cheering the Pittsburgh Steelers. She blogs regularly at http://hawleyville.wordpress.com.

Pam on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Pamela_Hawley

Pam on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=584898973

I love this, Pam! I’ve had one rejection and  one near-miss with a contest, and I know exactly how you feel. I’m going to keep smooching, though, just like you! Thanks for being here today. Please give Pam some comment luv and then hop on over to all the LLC blogs to see what else is cookin’!

 

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24 thoughts on “Life List Club Friday – Sometimes, You Have to Kiss a Frog

    • Knowing that we all share the rejection experience helps. I think it is sometimes easier for us to see each other as “good writers” even moreso than ourselves – we’re our own hardest critics. So to know that these other good writers we admire and respect have dealt with it too goes a long way towards reminding us that it is all part of the process!

    • Querying will be a new venture for me too, Gary. All my submissions so far have been in response to calls for stories, so rather than reaching out I was responding to their guidelines and just trying to come up with most unique cover letter I could. A similar experience, but the query hurdle is one I still have to cross too … I’m thinking it might be more like kissing snapping turtles, but I’m game : )!

  1. You make me smile, Pam Hawley. I kissed toads and frogs with a vengeance during High School and College, but I got out of the habit for many years after. In fact, I could’ve wallpapered a room with rejection slips that still slowly rolled in after 2 years. I’m starting up again, a little shakier this time, but…I have a lot of lip gloss, so I’m puckering up!

    • The cool thing about all those warty-toad rejections is that when the acceptances DO come (and they will!), they make you sooooo happy. Maybe I couldn’t appreciate a prince without smooching a few toads, but knowing I stuck it out and kept trying to get that “yes” was a good feeling. Pretending I had confidence at the outset actually gave it to me for real : ). The flavored lip gloss works best – it kinda masks the froggy taste!

  2. I am thinking of that saying, “stretch marks are the badge of a real woman.” I don’t necessarily believe that’s true, but it has merit. Stretch marks are simply a part of life for most women.

    If we apply a similar saying to writing we get “Rejections are the badge of a real writer.” Now, some writers write without the intent of publication–just as some women are women but have no stretch marks. However, rejections are something every writer who has ever been published has.

    Maybe that didn’t make any sense. I loved your post, though. Keep on rocking.

  3. Nice post, Pam. I’ve ventured out of the castle a few times, only to be driven back inside by a horrible frog and left cowering in a corner for long periods before the next venture. Well put.

  4. Thank you Crystal! I can identify with the evil queen myself, some days : ).

    One of the wittiest, weirdest and truly original writers I’ve ever met in person was my college advisor. That was back in the day that all publishing-related communication was snail mail, and he told his students he had two walls in his home office wallpapered with rejections he’d received. But he also supported a stay-at-home wife and 5 young daughters as a freelance journalist, short fiction writer, and part-time writing teacher at the college, so he made it work well in spite of those frogs! I think about him whenever I get discouraged.

  5. Hello Marcia, I think I will frame this post. If every struggling writer out here doesn’t identify with this article, well, they haven’t been struggling long enough. It is well written, sincere and edgy with just a bit of humor. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing …Some days I actually identify with the frustrated evil queen.

    • Oh, I know what you mean, Crystal! I’m more like the Wicked Witch of the West! Glad you enjoyed Pam’s post and the sentiment. We’re happy to have you here!

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