In the spirit of Thanksgiving – the holiday where many American families get together to devour a carcass of a dead bird and sneer behind the backs of relatives they didn’t want to see – I’d like to offer some snide gratitude. What is snide gratitude, you ask? And how can the words snide and gratitude even go together in the first place?
Glad you were wondering.
I am defining snide gratitude™ (note: trademarked as of today) as the gratitude you feel for learning about things you actually never wanted to learn. But since you’ve learned about them, you now know to stay the hell away from them and, thus, in the spirit of our times of personal growth and Tony Robbins, you are expressing gratitude.
Now that we got that tricky definition out of the way, I’d like to share the three things I am “grateful” to have encountered in my life:
Going to a club to interact with people. Unless it’s the kind of club where most patrons are out on the dance floor, you’ll probably find yourself trying to converse with your friends while sustaining both eardrum and vocal cords damage simultaneously. If you cannot hear the words leaving your own mouth, what makes you think you can maintain a conversation? And how much fun can you actually have sipping a drink worth two pairs of shoes, wistfully looking at people who – unlike you – have summoned enough courage to dance, and occasionally exchanging grunt-like sounds with your companions? Seriously. Take me to a Starbucks anytime. Even if I cannot tolerate their coffee, I can at least tell you about it.
People who think their opinion matters to you even though it totally doesn’t. Because you either barely know them or you don’t know them at all and only occasionally interacted with them on social media. Still they believe they are well within their rights to ask you questions about your choices and then express their opinion about those choices in a manner worthy of Simon Cowell, Dr. Phil, and Deepak Chopra combined.
“I am sorry you feel this way” apology. This is just some first class passive-aggressive bullshit right there. Anyone who delivers this kind of apology even once deserves to have their Thanksgiving flight diverted to Russia where they can spend the holiday – and the rest of their life — dancing to the new, famous tune “Go hard like Vladimir Putin”. Yes. It’s real.
I am not the first one to tell you that law #1 is gravity.
I am also probably not the first one to suggest that law #2 – The Murphy’s Law – is the most observed law after gravity. I hope Mrs. Murphy is still collecting royalties.
But I’d like to think that I was among the first few million to notice and define law #3 — shit happens when you least expect it. Good shit and bad shit.
I’ve been studying this law since before internet became a thing and from what I can tell it works just like gravity. By which I mean to say — all the time. So if you want something, make sure that you DO NOT under any circumstances, beyond any reasonable doubt, and as surely as marzipan in Spain during the Christmas season EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, much less expect it. On the other hand, if it’s something you don’t want, go for it. Think it, expect it, talk about it. It won’t happen.
My recent empiric evidence comes from Twitter (doesn’t all evidence now come from Twitter?). About three weeks ago as I was doing what I usually do at midnight – browse my writers’ groups on Facebook – I saw a mention of #AdPit. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, #AdPit is a pitching orgy that takes place on Twitter several times a year. It involves writers abridging their manuscripts to 140 characters and agents/small publishers stalking the hashtag. It’s like an elevator speech on steroids in an elevator that fits all of the internets.
I’ve never before taken part in these mostly because they happen when people in my time zone are either drifting off into dreamland or getting ready to go out (I am in the first category). But this time at least one of my eyes was still awake. So I decided what-the-hell, quickly keyed in 140 characters on my phone, pressed the tweet button, and then let my melatonin do its work.
I woke up the next morning to a notification. Someone favorited my tweet which in the world of #AdPit meant they wanted to see my query and the first five pages. So I sent those off and then I had a cup of coffee. An hour later I had a request for a full manuscript in my inbox. I sent that off and had some chamomile tea. Obviously because at this point I needed to keep my hands from shaking while compulsively checking my e-mail every ten minutes for the response.
The rest is history. I can now report that the painful query process is over and my novel will be out next year with a publisher I met on social media. Stay tuned for a future publication announcement where I’ll probably be looking like this:
And until then I encourage you to take law #3 seriously. Also try Twitter for all your querying and pitching needs.