I admit it. I’m a dog show junkie. There’s just something about canines on a runway that attracts me; I can’t say why. So I watched Westminster the other night–well, two nights. And I have to admit that I was pleased by the results. A beautiful springer spaniel won. I was pleased. Not thrilled. I’m waiting for more big dogs to win. I’m a big dog girl. I’ve had two golden retrievers, two labs, and a great dane. I have dogs that would eat the entire toy category for lunch. I want a dane to win. Even an Irish setter. Come on, you have to admit that there isn’t anything quite as gorgeous as an Irish setter on the move.
But those small dogs keep winning. Okay. They jump around. Okay, they have cute little legs that work like hamsters in a wheel to get down that carpet and back in the allotted time. Okay, they’ve been groomed to within an inch of their lives(I still say, poor poodles. My aunt had a standard poodle. It was a magnificent dog. All I could think of watching those pouffed and moussed creatures they had prancing down the runway was, a)isn’t your butt cold in this weather? and b) all the other dogs must laugh at you….when they’re finished laughing at the Mexican hairless, anyway.
But I realized as I watched, that indeed, dog shows are like publishing. It doesn’t matter if you have the winningest dog in the US(a long pouffy mop of a dog called the Dandy Dinmont). It doesn’t matter if your dog is more popular with the crowd(the ubiquitous PBGB). What matters is the objective opinion of one man or woman on one night. Like the announcer says, they come down from 2500 entries to the 7 top dogs. And the judge said he wished he could give out seven ribbons, because the best of class were all champion dogs(I still can’t warm up to the poodles) (of course, I doubt they can warm up, either)(I do love the explanation of why they have those puffballs of fur on their knees. It’s to keep their knees warm in the water. Well, what about the rest of their naked back half?). But, considering that these dogs were considered the very best representation of their classes, perfect in conformation and blessed with a showring attitude(boy, could that bouvier stack). (yeah, I even have the lingo), it came down to intangibles nobody can control.
So there you are as an author. You might be the best author of your generation. You might have written a book–even a series of books–that are beautifully reviewed, that are beloved by your friends and family and even the critique partner who can never find a nice thing to say about you. You might even find an agent who loves your stuff. But if you don’t get the subjective approval from an editor, it doesn’t matter. And no matter how brilliant a worsdsmith you are, or how beautifully you craft characters or plots or themes, no matter how timely or topical, the sad fact is that often it ends up in the area of intangibles as to whether you’re picked for the show. And then whether, once picked, you get the attention of the rest of the people in the publishing house. And the sales force. And the…..you get the idea.
On the other hand, if you’re a writer, you do it because you can’t not do it. So you might as well shoot for that ring in Madison Square Garden and the single spot, with that judge calling, “the winner is…..” I know I do.
eileenkathleen, the evil twins