In Susanna Leonard Hill’s adorable picture book, CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT SHEEP, little Ava can’t go to sleep. There are just too many things going on in her head. Even the sheep she enlists to help her get so fed up with the number of times she has them jumping that they quit. Ava tries to find a replacement, but each animal that shows up for the job has a reason they are not quite right. The horses are too pretty to look at. The chickens can’t seem to get over the fence. And the cows are a complete disaster!
Everyone has an excuse, and poor Ava is right back where she started…she can’t go to sleep. She just CAN’T.
In my house, school has started back up and that means our nightly routine has kicked into high gear. Bath, jammies, teeth brushed, tucked in tight, and then, the barrage of requests and complaints begin…
“Can I have a drink of water?”
“Will you read me another story?”
“Will you rub my back?”
“My tummy/head/tooth/chin/kneecap/shinbone/pinkie toe hurts!”
“I’m scared of the dark/shadows/monsters/fire/pillow/speck of invisible dirt on the wall!”
Most days, I start out as the compassionate, listening, consoling mommy.
“Oh, sweetie, let me rub that aching earlobe for you!” or “I promise you that no one has ever died from an itchy elbow.”
But that usually only lasts through the first 17 or so requests. After that, I progress to the frustrated, impatient, snapping mommy.
“Bogeyman? He’s nothing. I’ll give you something to be scared of!” (okay, not really. But wouldn’t it be fun to say, just once?)
Excuses. From sleep to submitting our work, we all have them. And since I’m pretty sure the bedtime excuses are not something new to this generation, the reality is that most of us have years and years of practice coming up with them.
“Just a few more rounds of revisions.”
“I’m waiting on one more critique.”
“What should I do with that dialogue tag? I just can’t send it out until I decide.”
Guess what, friends? When your revisions consist of debating the merits of “shouted,” over “exclaimed,” it is time to be done. Now don’t get me wrong, critique and revision and line-editing are all necessary parts of the process, and you should do all of them. But when our reasons for not submitting our work start to circle round and round like a never-ending Tilt-a-Whirl, it’s time to step off the ride.
You might be scared, which I get. Someone might tell you they don’t like your work. In fact, someone probably will. So let me take a moment to soothe your itchy elbow…
You will survive it. I promise. No one has ever died from a rejection letter. (At least, not that I’m aware of.)
So we can keep coming up with excuses, and end up right back where we started. Or we can send out our work when we know it’s ready, and sleep like a baby knowing that we have taken steps to move forward in our writing career.
So, fill in the blank…what’s your favorite excuse?
But I CAN’T because…