I doubt that there is a person in this great country who hasn't been told at one time or another, "If life gives you lemons, just make lemonade!"
This has usually be said to me by sweet, old ladies who then smile a placating smile at me, pat my head like a cocker spaniel and then walk away. Leaving me with two thoughts:
1. Lemons do not equal lemonade. Lemons equal lemon juice. Something that I consistently hear from my dentist and WebMD will cause my tooth enamel to melt away like my makeup in 97% humidity. (Note to my dear relatives who live in the Midwestern states - Come to the desert where breathing doesn't also involve drinking a glass of water.)
2. Why don't we say "If life gives you coffee beans make a multi-million dollar empire with a green, mermaid-looking lady as your logo?"
I did not set out to write a post that bemoans common cliches.
(If I was going to write that post though, I'd start with this one: "Sleeping like a baby". I'm sorry, but if you've ever had a baby, been around a baby or seen a baby you know that Baby does not equal Sleep. Just saying.)
I started out writing this post to tell you a little story.
It was my second writer's conference and the first time I had ever signed up for three meetings with different editors from big publishing houses. And I was terrified.
I don't think I slept the entire night before my meetings. I shook as I walked down the hallway to meet with them. I was eighteen and could only imagine two possible scenarios:
1. The editor would read my work, sneer "well, this is certainly pitiful," and have me escorted out of the room, out of the hotel and possibly out of the city.
2. Read my proposal, begin dancing and singing a wonderful song about how this was the proposal they had been dreaming of forever and always.
And then we would have cake.
Ever so slowly, I opened the door to the first publisher I was going to meet with ever. He was sitting behind a desk and if memory serves me correctly, he was nine feet tall.
"Get inside," he barked and I scurried into the chair in front of the desk.
"What do you have?" he boomed, nodding at my proposal since I hadn't uttered a word.
"It's..." I panted. "A mystery about--"
"Fiction?!" he shouted.
"Um, yes sir, I--"
"I hate fiction."
And then I just sat there. Trying not to cry because the only thing I could have used for tissues would have been one of the proposals I'd painstakingly printed, copied, hole-punched and carefully put into bright pink folders so the editors could easily find mine in their stack of proposals to publish.
(Side note: Do not put your proposal in bright pink folders to give to the editors)
"Well. You still have me for the next thirteen minutes," he said, looking at his watch.
"Oh." What I didn't say was, "Yay!"
Then he looked at me. "Do you like chocolate?"
I just blinked at him. Then I gasped because a Hershey Kiss whacked into my head right as a Snickers bar hit me in the arm.
"Or maybe you prefer Milky Ways?" he said. I managed to catch that one.
And then I relaxed. And the man somehow shrank back down to a still-tall six and a half feet. And we talked. I heard about his wife and grown kids and I told him about my job working with teens at my church. He told me why he hated fiction and I told him why I loved writing it.
And he became one of the nicest friends I ever had on the road to publication. I wrote him when I had a question and he answered it. He showed me the behind-the-scenes at different conferences and told goofy jokes.
My point to this story is that you never know who or what you'll find. Someone that might on first glance be just a blip on the screen might end up becoming a friend who pushes you in the exact direction you needed to go. Something that may not have appealed to you a year ago to write might end up becoming what you get published writing.
Keep your eyes open. Coffee beans and lemons are littering the streets everywhere just waiting to be picked up and turned into fabulous things. ;)