February Theme: Groundhog Day by Platte F Clark

In doing a little research (Wikipedia) on Punxsutawney Phil, the weather soothsaying rodent (yep, he’s a rodent), it turns out he rarely sees his shadow when he comes out to do his thing—only predicting an early spring 13.8% of the time. 

Unfortunately for Phil, since 1887 his predictions have been correct only 39% of the time, a somewhat statically worse record than if he’d stayed in his hole and flipped a coin. More importantly, just how old is he anyway? Someone should look into that.

Being new to this game (my first book “Bad Unicorn” comes out in April) I don’t have a lot of career lessons learned—I could lament losing two ARCs to a fellow author who agreed to blurb my book and then didn’t, but in the words of my teenage daughter, “meh.”

Upon reflection, however, I think our friend Punxsutawney Phil illustrates an important point: no matter how many times you crawl out of your hole and try and do some good, you’re probably going to fail more often than not. More rejection letters in the query pile; more “I just didn’t fall in love with it,” notations from passing editors; more negative reviews than you feel is entirely necessary; more people passing your signing table than stopping, and the list goes on. But that doesn’t stop our shadow hunting rodent friend—he gives it his best and sometimes, serendipitously, he gets it right. And people don’t gather in the cold every year because he’s statistically more likely than the weather channel to offer accurate climate prognostications. People come out because he makes them feel good. And perhaps for the hot chocolate, but more importantly because he makes them feel good. I’m 39% certain on that point.

So write something that makes someone feel good. Nobody will remember how many failures happened along the way. And when it’s finished, you can at least say you’ve done as well as a dirt covered rodent living in a Pennsylvania hole—and that’s something.


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