Friday, August 3, 2012

The GREAT BIG SECRET You Already Know

We have great things planned for you after the weekend for the five days (three posts) we have dubbed "Promotion Week." Expect to learn the secrets of promoting your novels in ways you'll feel good about. You're going to love every word.

But there's one secret, a big one, you already know. Can you guess what it is?

While you think, let me tell you what went through my mind the day I watched - again and again - as the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded mid-air with six astronauts, and one civilian, a high school teacher, inside.

I was a newlywed. My grandparents were still alive, and my parents still considered me their little girl. I still felt like a kid dressed in grown-up clothes.

So as I watched the explosion, did I think how tragic it was, what a terrible thing had happened? Of course I did. But you know what dominated my thoughts? It was, "This can't happen. It's impossible."

See, NASA was run by real grown-ups. I knew my folks had messed up from time to time; in fact, I could list the times out for you, in detail, as if I were building a case against their acts of treason. It would take a while before I could shrug my shoulders and chalk their blunders up to human fallibility. Not till later would I understand that these loving, flawed people were a whole lot like me.

But a place like NASA out-grown-up'ed my parents. It was run by rocket-scientists, the kind of brains with legs who had put men on the moon. They didn't make mistakes.

Until... Ker-pow!

It took a bit of time before I got it, that they had simply messed up. It took a nano-second more for a new, heart-sickening thought to take hold: The country, the world was run by people no smarter than me.

We were all in serious trouble.

Have you guessed The Great Big Secret? It's this:

People are only people. 

Think of it: Those erudite authors pictured on book jackets. The intimidating agents who send back your manuscripts with form rejections. The big deal editors you can't bring yourself to approach.

All just people.

I've met some, and watched, just to be sure. They bite their nails to the quick, some of them. When they laugh, sometimes things fly out their noses. They say dumb things from time to time, the sorts of things you might say if you didn't feel sure of yourself.

Sometimes they don't feel sure of themselves.

Sometimes they say no when they should say yes. Or they say nothing at all when they should say something. Sometimes they mess up.

And that's actually good news. It means that you are as grown-up as anybody ever gets. No matter how you try, no matter how many grown-up clothes you put on, sometimes things will fly out your nose.

And when they do, you'll tidy yourself as best you can, and continue.

Welcome to the human race.


s said...

You've hit it exactly, Katy! I've been struggling with this for years. I don't feel grown up enough to be raising three children. I don't feel grown up enough to have a book contract. I don't feel grown up enough to keep this house clean (seriously...I'm fine with that one). Ah. What a relief this post is.

Thank you. :)

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Oops. That was me. For some reason, I messed up.

At least nothing flew out my nose...this time.

Marcia said...

Katie--I can so identify with your post.

I'm approaching the later years of the fifties, but I still feel like a kid in my mind! Ever since my take-charge husband fell ten years ago and got his brain injury I've been asking, "Where's the adult in this family?" Although I've been functioning as the captain at the helm, I'm always wondering when I'm gonna grow up.

Twila Paris' song "the Warrior is a Child" comes to mind:

"Lately, I've been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing-- strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me, I'm hiding all the tears

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor the warrior is a child..."

Maybe everyone feels that way to some degree. And maybe if they don't, they're the worse off for it. Because it's the feeling of being "just a child" that makes us run to our Heavenly Father for help.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Gosh, Katy, I thought it was only me!
This reminds me of a writers conference I attended. A new acquisitions editor arrived a day late during lunch (straight from the airport) and I happened to be sitting at her table. When she pushed back her plate at the end of the meal, hordes of hopeful writers descended on her. She looked bewildered and agitated as people violated her comfort zone before her food had even digested. She asked me if this was what she could expect for the weekend and I said, unfortunately, yes. Maybe we should have a 'Be Kind to Editors' day.

Kathleen Popa said...

Susie, it's a bit of a disappointment, isn't it, that we may never become the enlightened beings (not in this life) we thought we'd be. I was so looking forward to it!

Marcia, what a beautiful song. And yes, I do believe our father has things under control.

Debbie, you make a good point. People require a certain level of consideration - even editors!

Bonnie Grove said...

In many latent ways, the whole "how to be a writer" industry has created a mystic around the industry that makes many otherwise normal writer-people wig out.

I think the best advice to anyone on the writing journey is: calm down, get comfortable because this is going to take awhile.

I've seen writers dissolve into tears at conferences--their intense, driven sense of urgency rendering them all by senseless when they hit the wall of industry truth.

Or shaking in their boots when they approach an agent or editor. I hate seeing that. So does the agent or editor. We're all just people in the trade of swapping stories.

Latayne C Scott said...

Katy, your post reminds me of the saying, "He puts his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else."

However, my SIL's brother heard that saying as a child and from that day onward he would sit on a bed and put both feet into his trousers at the same time, just so he wouldn't put his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.

Haha! I've got lotsa stories about my inlaw relatives!

Kathleen Popa said...

Bonnie, amen! But I was just like that.

Latayne, do they have a pant's donning competition in the Olympics? I'll bet they never thought of that.

I like the old Leonard Cohen quote - "There's a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Almost Biblical, isn't it?

Cherry Odelberg said...

The world is run by people no smarter than me! Yes, this was truly a revelation. I have to remember it often and every time it startles me. The end result is that I must not give too much power (over me) to other people; but I can never give too much Grace. Looking forward to what you all have to share next week.

Kathleen Popa said...

" I must not give too much power (over me) to other people; but I can never give too much Grace."

Cherry, I LOVE that! Exactly! Amen!

To Him be the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.