I didn’t watch much TV as a child, but what I did watch was definitely cartoon heavy. Rocky and Bullwinkle, remember that one? I’ll never forget the villain Natasha saying “Moose and Squirrel” in that heavily racist Russian accent.
In cartoons, bad is punished and good triumphs. And the characters can survive any setback. Bugs Bunny can get exploded or pushed over cliffs etc. for the fifty millionth time, and yet he still emerges smiling with just a hint of singed fur.
It doesn’t take too many years past those preschool cartoon watching days to realize that life doesn’t work like that. Hard work is not always rewarded. Laziness and irresponsibility is not always punished. Genuinely terrible people succeed in life while genuinely delightful people fail.
Never is this more true than in the life of an author. Go to the bookstore or the library and browse a couple sections. If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you probably won’t flip open too many covers before you find a story that is worse than ones you have collecting dust in your computer’s hard drive. You write and write, polish your craft for hours. And yet, where are your New York Times bestseller mentions and royalty checks? Even if you do get a book contract, you might not sell that many. While junk writing (*cough* refraining from mentioning names, though a certain very popular book and movie release comes to mind *cough*) is flying off shelves, your books remain shrouded in obscurity.
So what do you do when writing life doesn’t offer as many rewards as the cartoons? Pitch a Popeye style fit? Well, that is one option. But here are three others.
2. Channel Elmer Fudd: Always have a new idea for how to succeed. When Elmer Fudd fails to catch that “wascly wabbit” once again, he comes up with another far-fetched scheme. If one writing door closes on you, brainstorm how to break in a window. With the explosion of the internet, more and more writing options have become available for authors. If you don’t get that one million dollar deal with Random House, try an alternate route.
3. Unlike Boris & Natasha or any other cartoon villain ever, know when a certain writing avenue just isn’t working for you. They say the definition of insanity is trying the same thing and expecting a different result.
Many years ago I made peace with the idea that I would never be a vocal performer. I just don’t have the voice or ear for it. I tried as a teenager. I worked really hard and practiced and practiced. But it was just becoming a time drain as hours vanished and I didn’t improve. As the famous Kenny Rogers lyrics in The Gambler go, “Know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Know when to walk away; know when to run.” I know I’m not very good at walking away when I’m failing, but it’s something we all need to do sometimes.
Remember: Completing one of our Writing Prompts gains you an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.
Bugs Bunny (or another favorite cartoon character of yours) goes to the psychologist. Write a few paragraphs of their conversation.