Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I've Got a Theory: The glass is half full

As fabulous and awesome as the writing life is, it's not always full of rainbows and lollipops.

Maybe our critique group didn't like our latest chapter... An agent sent a rejection... A reader gave a bad review... A scene just isn't working out... Edits getting you down... Having a bad day of writing...

I have a theory, though, that says that No matter how bad things seem, you can ALWAYS find the good in it.

Allow me to illustrate with a funny story. My then eight year old daughter and I were getting the Christmas tree ready to decorate a couple of Christmases ago. I was stringing the lights, and she was checking each strand to make sure the lights all worked. One set was not as bright as the others, so I set it aside. I hoped not to use it, but as I got closer to the end, it became obvious that I'd have to if I wanted to cover the whole tree. I sighed and picked up the dim set.

My little girl: "It's okay. Using dull lights is better than using no lights at all. Just like having a dead cat is better than having no cat at all."

Me: "WHAT?! I'm pretty sure I'd rather have no cat than have a dead cat."

My daughter: "But you can still pet a dead cat."

No, I wasn't speechless. I don't think you can call gut-injuring laughter "speechless." When I gained my breath and my composure, I praised her for her astonishing ability to, once again, find the good in anything.

In my family, we no longer use the expressions "every cloud has a silver lining" or "glass half-full." We use "A dead cat is better than no cat at all." My daughter asked if she was ever going to live that down. The answer is no.

But do you know what? She was totally right. You can find the good in EVERY SINGLE SITUATION. Even the really crappy ones. Those people that are always happy? I'm convinced it's because they are experts at finding and focusing on the good in any situation. It's not magic. Anyone can do it.

Your critique group didn't like your chapter? Now you know what to change. And it's way better to know now instead of ten revisions later when you really couldn't stand to change something that big.

An agent sent you a rejection? Now you are one agent closer to finding your dream agent.

Got a bad review from a reader? Maybe. But how many GOOD reviews did you get? And any publicity is good publicity, right? And then of course, whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger. :)

Scene not working out? Then you get to have that awesome scene spending more time living in your head than you would've gotten otherwise.

Edits getting you down? It'll make finishing all the sweeter.

Having a bad day writing? Well, I think we can all agree that...

A bad day writing is better than a day of no writing at all.


Kelley said...

That is too funny :)

I'm definitely a 'glass half-full' or 'a dead cat is better than no cat' kind of person.

I have yet to find the writing industry unbearably frustrating. Sure, I wish an agent would see how amazing my work is ;) and rush to represent it but I know that if I don't give up, someday they will.

Great post Peggy!

J+S said...

While I do like to look on the bright side of things, I'm not so sure that a dead cat wouldn't start stinking after a bit...what a great, funny story. :)

Richard said...

That's a very funny story.

Cristina said...

dead cat is better than no cat at all? best line ever!!!!

Stephanie Black said...

I love it! What a great example of optimism :)

Abby said...

LOL! That is awesome! Kids can truly teach us wonderful things in their own silly way. I love that message. Cute!

Ryan Stuart Lowe said...

Okay, I lol'd at "you can still pet a dead cat."

There should be a word for it: necrofelinia, maybe.

Carrie Butler said...

That's hilarious! I kind of want a t-shirt that says that... ^.^ Thanks for sharing the story!

Jenny S. Morris said...

I really, really wish I could get inside my kids heads sometimes. Or, that we could remember how our brains worked when we were a kid. How they get from point A to point B is amazing.

Thanks for the words of wisdom ;0)

J. A. Bennett said...

This is the best story ever, and totally something I would have said at eight! Great post!

Tara Tyler said...

no cat, dead cat both equally good! said the dog person.
hee hee

but thanks for putting those positive answers out there! could always use some encouragement =)

Leah said...

Kids are so, erm, curiously wise.

I wish I could remember how my brain got from point A to B when I was younger, because like Jenny up there said, it's pretty amazing.

Julie said...

Bahahahaha! Oh my heart, your daughter ROCKS!

LOVED this post!

Leigh Ann said...

You just inspired me to turn tomorrow's frustrated blog post positive.

Thanks, lady. <3

Lani Wendt Young said...

Your daughter and my daughter must be related. In a dead cat vs no cat sort of way. Shes always lighting up my life..."youre not fat, youre snuggly...Its ok that you came last, if you didnt run, then how could other people come first?"

Thank you for the writing reminder that there can be good in every rejection and awful review. And even in dead cats.

M Pax said...

What a great story. Love the 'dead cat' thing.

As long as I get to spend the day writing, it's a good day. No matter what else. Thanks for the reminder.

Kaylee Baldwin said...

Thanks for this! I am an optimistic person, but it is still so easy to get feeling down in this writing business. Still laughing at the cat story. Priceless.

BECKY said...

Hi Peggy! Wonderful post! And what a fabulous little girl you have! Petting a dead cat!....too funny!

John Waverly said...

This post made me smile and think about my own kids and their illogical wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

I happen to be one of those annoyingly happy people most of the time. I don't know why my brain is wired that way, but it is. I love it. (I bet you knew I'd say that.)

Michelle said...

Oh Peggy, You've made me laugh!
Some days I read the perfect blog post for the day... Love this post.

linda said...

LOL! Your daughter is hilarious! Awesome reasoning. As for me, I'm one of those annoying people who will say that half the glass is filled with water and the other with air. :P

Peggy Eddleman said...

Kelley-- That's the best kind of attitude to have. The but-if-I-don't-give-up-it-will-all-happen one. Which is remarkably similar to the "a dead cat is better than no cat at all one." :)

Jenifer- There was actually a lot more to the conversation with my daughter, and that was one of the things I brought up. Along with several others. Let's just say that the girl can think on her feet, and come up with amazing optimism for ANYTHING.

Richard-- I laugh every time I think of it, which is more often than you'd think (especially since she rewrote the expression for us. :))

Cristina-- Isn't is just.

Stephanie-- I know! I love that I get to be around her every single day.

Abby-- Kids are cool like that.

Ryan-- Bahahaha! Love that! Clever.

Carrie-- Now that you mention it, I want a shirt like that, too!

Jenny-- Oh my gosh. I am right there with you. How cool would that be?

J.A.-- Then I would love to hear some of the things you DID say at eight! It'd be AWESOME.

Tara-- I laughed out loud at your comment, then read it to my kids. You killed me! (But a dead me is better than no me at all, or so I've heard. ;))

Leah-- Curiously wise. I love that. It makes you think that someone should write a book about tapping into kids' heads to see how they come up with things, doesn't it? But can you imagine the mass amount of research? Ugh.

Julie-- I think so, too. :) And thanks!

Leigh Ann-- Oh, yay! And you're welcome. I'm definitely coming over to check it out.

Lani-- Hahaha! Your daughter is AWESOME! I love those quotes!

M- Thanks, you're welcome, and yes! Any day writing is a good day!

Kaylee-- I am, too, but there are still times...

Becky-- Hi! And thank you. She is amazing, and keeps me smiling all day.

John-- Illogical wisdom. Such a great way to describe it! I love annoyingly happy people!

Michelle-- Awww! I was your perfect blog post for the day! That makes me all kinds of happy.

Linda-- I love you! Half filled with water and the other half with air. That's freakin awesome. That kind of attitude makes the world a better place.

Carterista said...

Peggy! That is HILARIOUS!!! I used to look fo'r the good in everything and I'd like to think that I was at least a quasi-expert at it. But life has gotten me down these past few months. Thanks for reminding that "A dead cat is better than no cat." LOL!!!

Carterista said...

And where the heck did you find that picture!?!? Ha Ha!

Kristine said...

She's so funny! I like that photo too. I loved this post.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Carterista-- I think you were an ACTUAL expert. I'm sorry you feel like you've lost that! Here's to hoping you find it soon.

And isn't the picture so perfect? Who would've thought I could've found the right one.

Kristine-- Thanks, thanks, and thanks!!

Jillian said...

Hahaha - this is amazing. That cat line should definitely go on one of those fake motivational posters, and your ending line is perfect and absolutely true!

Lan said...

As the world's leading glass half empty girl I applaud your beautiful daughter for being able to find the positive in everything. It's a real gift. As for the handy little positive reinforcements, I shall stick them up on my wall as a reminder :)