“Let me do that for you. It’ll be easier.”

We have one goal today. Let us analyze the above emboldened title, and maybe through this analysis we can discover why getting published means so much to me.

I woke up out of a sound sleep to write this piece. It was calling to me, and if I hadn’t answered the call it would have kept badgering me until I did. So here I am… doing what I was born to do. Writing.

And now to delve deeper into the meaning of: “Let me do that for you. It’ll be easier.”

My close kinship with cerebral palsy means nothing is easy for me. Not walking up stairs at a football game. (Who doesn’t love the sensation that, with one wrong step, you could fall a long way?). Not tying my shoes (This was such a frustrating enterprise that I didn’t wear a shoe that needed to be tied after age six; that’ll show ’em. I thought). Or frying an egg, or cutting my food. Nothing is easy for me, but to complain is sort of pointless. I am who I am, with the specific set of obstacles granted to me. The same is true for you. We all have our obstacles, and I’ve just determined that, in my case, complaint gets me nowhere.

When I was a kid and wanted to learn how to do something. say tying my shoe or cutting my food, for example, I would go to an adult and ask to be shown the secret that would unlock these abilities.

The response was always the same. The adult would say, “Oh, let me do that for you. It’ll be easier.”

Kid me thought, Sounds good to me. Less work on my part.

Current me thinks, Easier? Easier for whom?

There’s so many things I want to learn how to do. Slowly, I am learning and becoming acclimated to them. They are all simple, routine things everyone knows how to do by the time they are where I am.

But one of the things I want to learn how to do goes deeper than a simple chore. The laundry. Giving my part of the house a proper vacuuming. This is deeper than that.

I want to learn how to stop hearing: “Let me do that for you. It’ll be easier.”

Because what that phrase really means is no.

“Hey, can you show me how to….?” I’d ask an adult.

“Let me do that for you. It’ll be easier.” Essentially, what I’ve always heard when someone says that is equivalent to: No, I don’t have the time to show you all the tricks. But if I do it for you, it’ll get done, and then you’ll stop bugging me.

And it would be easier…. for them. Leaving future me to deal with the reality that there are many things, to this day, that I don’t know how to do.

One of the things that does not fall into that category is writing. I know how to write. And yet, whenever I receive a rejection note from an agent or a publisher, I don’t see the form rejection into which almost no care or thought was placed. In my head, I get that the job of an agent is to find work they can sell. But my heart wins out in times like those, and I see a vision–as clear as if it were happening right in front of me. It’s a vision of someone saying, “You don’t know what you’re doing, and I don’t have the time, the patience, or the resources to help you learn.” The we’ve-all-grown-up version of: “Let me do that for you. It’ll be easier” has transformed into: “Here’s a quick, sharp, awful rejection of the thing you love most in the world. Now get out of my face, and let me get back to doing real work.”

You might say, “Maybe he should look at the business differently. It isn’t like that.”

To that, my dear friend, I would say, “It may not be like that for you. That may not be how you see agenting or publishing. But I have always lived my life with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. If someone tells me no, I want to prove them wrong. If someone shuts me out, I want to prove that I belong… and I will.

Eventually.”

A Writer Has To Be Willing To Eavesdrop!

Eavesdropping. It’s a ton of fun, really. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love it. Sometimes my friends will ask me, mid-eavesdrop, “What’s going on? Anything good?” They grin, knowing if there is anything good, I won’t hold out on them. I’ll relate it willingly.

You can engage in the practice yourself, no matter where you are. Personally, I find the best places to eavesdrop to be restaurants. People feel free to talk about anything and everything in restaurants–from break-ups to weddings to new babies to promotions to birthday celebrations, and all that occupy the space in between these subjects. Listening in is a great way to hear how different people use language, how they form and respond to dialogue.

Why is this important to a writer?

You can’t discover your new main character for that great novel you’re going to write until you can hear his voice, and before you can hear his voice, you have to hear him talk. Which means letting him talk, and allowing yourself to quiet your mind and listen. Eavesdrop. Figure out the story you’re meant to tell, and when you have a good handle on it, go tell it as best you can!

But you have to be willing to eavesdrop to begin with. Eavesdropping is key to writing someone or something real!