Archive for December, 2011

Small pleasures

I’m not much of a Thanksgiving girl. It’s a good excuse for a turkey dinner, but it’s not a tradition I grew up with. I don’t think my Thanksgiving gap is all that unusual for Canadians. At least, I’ve met lots for whom it’s simply a very welcome long weekend, not a celebration. In my case, my Scottish family simply never really picked up the tradition. But Christmas? Now that’s a different story.

I love Christmas. Love the box of special ornaments that come out each year, the sameness of the things I bake and the people we see and the dinners we eat around the holiday. Love the traditions and the music and all of it. For me, Christmas is the time I think most about all I’m thankful for in this life. It’s a long list, mostly of the names of people I care about and who care about me. But there are a few utterly trivial items on there, too. Like this tool:

It’s cheap, ancient, and has its name printed on the side in all capital letters: MAYOKNIFE. Okay, so it’s descriptive, I suppose, but not of what I use it for. It was a freebie, more than twenty years ago, thrown in with some catalogue order my grandmother in Florida made. She gave it to me, undoubtedly along with the “diamond” ring that also came with the order (I had quite a collection of those at one time from her various catalogue orders.) It’s meant to get the last of the mayo out of the jar. I don’t know about you, but I inevitably end up throwing out out-dated mayo long before I finish any jar.

But for years and years, this ugly thing has been my kick-ass cookie lifter for taking hot cookies off cookie sheets and moving them to cooling racks. Yes, there are special tools for the task; I have a lovely one in a drawer in the kitchen. But I never use it. This cheap mayoknife is perfect for the task, thin and flexible enough to slip under any cookie without damaging it, and strong enough not to bend under the weight of even the biggest treats. And it won’t scratch my good cookie sheets, either. It’s a little thing, but little things can sometimes be the most satisfying.

May your holiday and the year to come be filled with pleasures large and small, things that bring a smile to your face and remind you what a joy this life can be. There are so many of them, when we take the time to pay attention. So wishing you the time, too, to notice them.

Merry Christmas!


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Agents and Underwear

I haven’t talked too much here – or anywhere – about my recent serious effort to find an agent. It’s no secret, but it’s a business thing, and I figure it’s pretty much between me and the agents until something official happens. In the meantime, either someone is going to love my work and want to represent me or s/he’s not the right agent for me, however perfect s/he may look on paper. But, of course, as easily said as that is, the whole process is also a very emotional one. I don’t think it’s possible to write a good book without pouring your heart and soul onto the page, so sending it out and waiting for likely rejection isn’t easy and feels very personal. For me, it’s essential to remember, always, that this is a business. But it’s also essential for me to keep my sense of humour about the whole thing.

My best friend is not a writer, and is the perfect person to help me keep this process in perspective. So especially for those of you who are also going through this process at the moment, I give you her analogy about agents and underwear:

A query letter is the first time you see a potential date across a room and get up the nerve to go over and introduce yourself. Rejection is likely, but the amount of yourself invested in the attempt is relatively minimal. Being rejected sucks, but it’s a numbers game. You expect it to happen more often than not. If it happens every time, you polish your approach and try again. And if things go well, it leads to

The partial. This is the first date. It’s conversation over dinner, where you find out whether you have the same taste in music and feel the same way about dogs vs cats and whether there’s any chemistry. At worst, one of you will feel it and the other won’t and you’ll get rejected. This will sting, because you had your hopes up that he might be The One and you put your best effort into being your most attractive self. But if the two of you click and you can’t stop talking and suddenly it’s two am before you realize it’s even dark outside, the relationship will progress to

The full manuscript. This is the first time your date is going to see you naked, and you’re not sure whether you’ve picked the right underwear for the occasion or if he has an aversion to cellulite or freckles, but cellulite and freckles and the lacy number you picked up that one day you were feeling thin is what you have to offer. And it’s here that you reveal so much of yourself that rejection is going to hurt. You know he likes you enough to want to see you naked; that’s been established. But when you’re standing there in your best bra and panties, holding your breath, it’s nerve-wracking. Being told “Sorry, not for me” at this point is a blow. No matter how circumspect you’ve tried to be about the whole thing, standing nearly naked in front of anyone is pretty intensely personal. But there’s always the hope, the chance, that he’ll take a long look and want to take things to the next level as much as you do and maybe even propose…

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