Before Coffee: Scaring the Horses

June 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

My friend Paula told me yesterday that these little pre-caffeine blatherings were “scaring the horses,” which was a new phrase to me.

(The closest Google could come up with was Mrs. Pat’s quote regarding Oscar Wilde, which is not what Paula meant.)

What she was getting at is that I’ve been sounding a bit grim lately. Perhaps despondent. A real Debbie Downer.

I was actually trying to be funny.

This is the thing about writing in general and writing on the internet in particular: the writer hears a certain tone of voice in his or her head that the reader does not. What sounds hilariously snarky to the writer might sound despondent, depressed, sarcastic, nasty, etc. to the reader, depending upon the day they’re having, how they were raised, their state of mental and/or physical health, und so weiter. 

What is true of the reader, by the way, is also true of editors who reject your manuscript. It doesn’t mean your work is bad; hell, it doesn’t even mean that particular editor thinks your work is bad. But if your novel has a puppy on page one and the editor’s dog just died, that might have colored the editor’s decision. Or they spilled their latte right before they looked at your manuscript. Could be anything.

But I digress.

To ease the minds of anyone else who might think I need to be on suicide watch, I’m fine. A little stressed, but less so every day. Not at all despondent. Even—once I’ve had my coffee—upbeat!

Sorry for not being as funny as I think I am; it’s not the first time I’ve been made aware of that flaw in my character. My logic is, if it’s amusing to me, it’s funny. Not always true.

So not to fret. Calm the horses.

horse panic.jpeg



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