I’ve been ruminating on this post for some time now as my family welcomes a new, happy, healthy addition to the clan. Well maybe not ruminating as that implies an organized stream of thought. Nietzsche was someone who could really ruminate. Me, at this time in my life, it’s more like stealing moments on a weekday evening or on the train to work. I try to fit them in whenever I can because this pursuit, to pursue writing, is the one that makes the most sense to me. Recently, those snatched flashes of reflection have been concentrating on one word, a word that seems to wink at me as I research the criteria of many different agents. This silly, little, winking word is…. ready for it….. preachy.
In today’s lexicon, one can easily create an adjective by adding a y to the end of the word. The addition of the y implies too much of that something. To start, I am not a fan of this trend. As Bill and I have been discussing the adjective preachy, I have a hard time not snickering after saying it, a method of punctuation to pass along my opinion of this trendiness. However my opinion, regardless of how much I like it, is irrelevant here. The trend has caught on. We see it used in the biographies of agents across all genres when they are describing what they do not want. “Nothing too preachy” or “avoid being preachy”, a statement emphasizing the importance of the storytelling and not the lesson. That seems pretty obvious to me that a story should have a point or a “lesson” but it cannot be so overt that it insults intelligence. This is the balance we strive for in our work as I’m sure all writers do. To write with a pulse, a certain cadence that delivers the story as a punch in the face, letting the story linger with the reader as they are left to ruminate in the rubble of whatever moments they can seize. Those moments of contemplation, the ones by the reader, determine the lesson or lessons to be learned. In a great story, those lessons, I imagine, are different for us all.
While working on the many various projects for Pour on the Cool, we’ve been submitting a manuscript called The Troubled Times of Thomas Peters. This has been our learning submission as we craft a variety of query letters to pitch our stories, trying to see what works. Since we haven’t heard back from anyone, even Ed with the ear hair is playing hard to get here, we would appreciate any thoughts on the “preachiness” of the story below:
The Troubled Times of Thomas Peters
“Oh, my heavens” says Thomas Peters
On the verge of despair, he teeters
“What is wrong?”, his friend asks
“Do you just have too many mundane tasks?”
“Oh, my heavens it’s that and more,
School and life make my head feel sore.”
“Sit down,” he says with a slight chagrin
“I honestly don’t even know where to begin….
“The itch on my leg is definitely a skeeter
And I didn’t get an A because I’m not a cheater.
The runny eggs for breakfast was from my mom’s egg beater
And I’m cold because my brother turns off the heater.
“My sister’s room is always neater
And again, and again I’m told I ‘m not a good eater
And worst of all,” says Thomas Peters
“I get sloppy kisses from Grammy when I greet her
Thomas takes a pause and then a breath
Before he goes on with the rest
“My dad snores so loud I don’t sleep til dawn
And the neighbor’s let their dog poop on our lawn
All my secrets are told by my best friend Shawn
And even though Mom drinks coffee, she constantly yawns.”
And on and on goes Thomas Peters
Whose list of complaints measures in meters
But after much time has come to pass
And the complaints of Thomas Peters have run out of gas
His friend rises from her listening pose
To look him in the eyes after staring at her toes
And she says with the best of her kindest heart
Hoping to encourage a brand-new start
“Thomas my dear I think it’s time I said my part
And let you know you should change your heart
If your secrets are being told by Shawn
Just tell him that you think it’s wrong.
Ask the neighbors to respect your lawn
Because if you don’t tell anyone it will go on and on
Wear pants when you know you’ll be around them skeeters
Ask your mom to boil the eggs to avoid using the beater
And for goodness gracious just ask for another heater.”
Exasperated from her long-winded reply
She took a deep breath and looked towards the sky
“Thomas my dear,” she said with a coo
“You are getting mixed up with the wrong point of view
In life there are highs and in life there are lows
And up and down the journey goes
So find what you love and follow it through
Because the unfolding of life is the unfolding of you.”
Now she stopped and waited for Thomas to think
As his cheeks turned rosy and his ears turned pink
He looked down to the ground and shuffled his feet
Waited some more til his thoughts were complete
“I think I know now that you are right
It seems to be clearer, I can see the light.
Through all the silly things and all the apparent strife,
I see the importance of being grateful in life.
Because you can’t always choose the life you’re livin
You can only live the one you’re given.”
Note: Yes this is a picture of Putin winking. However, I did not take it. I found it on reddit.com and fell in love with it. Quick Joke:
What did the democrat say when three of his aides farted during a speech on Russia? We must stop putin…Good night