Growing up, I had a number of different pets, including the lovable hamster. I enjoyed those furry little guys, but let’s be honest, there’s only so much you can do with a hamster. Watch it. Hold it for a few squirmy seconds. Feed it. Clean the cage. That was basically the gist of it, but hey, I’m a lover of all animals so that’s what I did.
Eventually, a couple of my hamsters escaped into the house, only to serve as a catalyst for bad dreams which would continue into my adulthood. The dreams usually went one of two ways: 1.) opening a closet door to find a pile of dead, emaciated hamsters, or 2.) learning my escaped hamsters had multiplied and were now plotting revenge against the person who’d held them captive.
Some years later, my dad confessed he did, indeed, find one of my escaped hamsters–under a loose shower drain, no less (I’ll spare you the gory details). Suffice it to say, my kids have asked for a pet hamster a time or two and the answer has always been hard no.
Looking back on my own experience now, another reason why hamsters don’t make the greatest pets is because they’re nocturnal. I mean, getting my kids to go to sleep is difficult enough without a hamster scurrying around its cage all night. And if you provide one of those little wheels like you’re supposed to, guess what? That will be their favorite nighttime activity!
Though I, myself, am far from nocturnal (unless you count waking countless times some nights), I’ve been feeling a little like a hamster in one of those wheels lately. You know, running, running, running, and never really getting anywhere. Though I love it dearly, writing can be lonely and quite frustrating like that at times.
As I wrap up querying on book #4 (The Bug Collector’s Bucket List) and prepare to fully focus on book #5 (Romeo and the Scarlett Letter), I’m very proud of the progress I’ve made, but it’s also easy to lose steam when you’ve written four books that don’t completely suck (if I’m to trust my beta readers and critique partners) but still haven’t gotten any further along in the process to publication.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m still fully set on becoming traditionally published. But I can’t pretend I don’t feel a little stuck sometimes. Especially when I see so many other writers tweeting things like, “I’m beyond thrilled to announce I’m now represented by agent X!!!!” or “I can’t believe I’m finally holding my book in my hands!” Nearly every time I’m on Twitter, I see these sort of things. I mean, I’m happy for them. Truly. And I’m confident I’ll be tweeting out the same type of thing one of these days, but right now, it still seems an eternity away.
Of course, the philosopher in me is always searching for a deeper meaning behind every day occurrences, and the optimist in me is ever craving that happy ending. So when this particular blog topic came to mind, I decided to do a little research on why rodents run in a wheel in the first place. Most would assume it’s a result of captivity and having nothing else to do, but a study with wild mice (and other small critters) showed that when given the choice in their natural habitat, some wild animals actually chose to run on a wheel.
Why would they do this when they could just run around in the wild? In my unprofessional opinion, I’d say that while curiosity likely lures them to check out the wheel in the first place, they must gain some type of enjoyment by running on it. To them, the wheel is actually fun!
So that got me thinking . . . maybe we should take a lesson from these wild mice and learn to see the wheel as fun, too. Or if we can’t see it as fun, at least see it as a necessary step in the whole writing for publication process. Running on the hamster wheel builds stamina and prepares us for what’s to come. Because let’s face it, publishing is a slow journey no matter how you slice it. We better get real comfortable retracing our steps over and over and over again (revising, anyone?).
But at the same time, it’s important to understand we won’t be stuck on that wheel forever. One day, maybe when we least expect, we’ll step of that wheel and soar.