When I was fortunate enough to see master motivator, Zig Ziglar several years ago, he told a story that really resonated with me, about kicking a cat. Now if you've never heard it, don't get too upset about animal abuse, I promise, that's not the point of this story, it's merely an effective analogy.
Mr. Ziglar tells this story much better than I do, so pardon my attempt to paraphrase his great work.
Mr. B was the top dog in a very large company. Every morning, he met some of his buddies for breakfast. One morning, he lost track of time, looked at his watch, and realized he was going to be late for work. He left the restaurant and jumped in his car. He barely had the engine started when he threw it in reverse to back out. He burned rubber leaving the parking lot. As he got on the freeway, he put the pedal to the metal and took off.
As he sped down the highway, he looked in his rear view mirror. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the flashing lights. He pulled over and rolled down his window.
"Where are you going in such a hurry," the officer asked.
"I need to get to work," he replied abruptly, "I'm a very important man," declared Mr. B
"Well, you're not above the law," the officer said.
"I didn't say I was … but shouldn't you be chasing real criminals and leave me alone?"
That was the wrong thing to say, because the officer replied, "I'll leave you alone in a few minutes. Let me see your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance."
Mr. B handed him the requested information. Then he sat there and stewed. As the minutes passed by, he got more and more angry.
The officer came back and handed Mr. B a ticket, along with the rest of his documents. Mr. B grabbed them out of the officer's hand, rolled up his window, and took off down the road.
By the time Mr. B finally arrived at work, he was very unhappy about how late it was. The first person he saw was his sales manager.
"Good morning, Mr. B" said the sales manager with a smile.
"There's nothing good about it," barked Mr. B, "I want to see you in my office NOW!"
The sales manager followed him into his office, and Mr. B threw his coat down on the couch, obviously peeved. "You fell short of your goal last week for the second week in a row. I want to know what you're going to do to get back on track and I want to know now."
"Mr. B," the sales manager objected, "We just talked about this yesterday. We have four big deals. Any one of them will put us over the top and I'm sure we'll get at least one of them."
"I'll believe it when I see it," Mr. B blurted out while looking at some papers on his desk. "You're dismissed."
The bewildered sales manager walked back to his office, and promptly yelled at the his assistant for not having the documents ready for him to sign, despite the fact he'd just given them to her.
The assistant stormed out into the lobby, threw the pile of documents on the receptionist's desk and said "I need these typed right now, and don't go to lunch until they're ready.
I'm sure you get the idea here…
The receptionist arrives home, late because of the extra work she had to do, that wasn't even part of her job. She sees her twelve-year old son, pants pocket torn, lying on the floor in front of the television, and she lays into him. "I work hard all day to buy you clothes, and I get home from work and see you've torn another pair of jeans, and all you do is lie around the house. I would appreciate a little help around here. No more television for you…go to your room."
Muttering to himself about the unfairness of it all, the boy heads to his room, when the family cat unwisely chose that moment to cross his path. The boy kicked the cat, and sent him scurrying from the room.
So here's the question –
Wouldn't it have been much better, for everyone involved, if Mr. B had just gone directly to the receptionist's house and kicked her cat himself?
And here's an even more important question –
Whose cat are you kicking?
This wasn't the blog I planned to write tonight, but I spent a great deal of time at work today feeling as though I was watching this scenario unfold, and trying to interrupt the progression, so no one would go home and kick a cat.
There are a number of sites out there for writers to share their hopes and dreams, to post samples of their work and to read and give feedback to others. Occasionally, I see a critique that seems particularly harsh, and it causes me to wonder, who kicked that writer's cat? Did she just get rejected by another agent? Did he receive a harsh criticism about his own work? What causes this progressive thoughtlessness? Or is it simply an increasing tolerance for boorish behavior?
Before I break out into a spontaneous verse of Kumbaya, let me give you two sources where you can find supportive writing peers, who will provide helpful feedback during your query search.