Eyes on Your Own Basket: An Easter Parable for Writers
I distinctly remember one particular Easter from my childhood when my brother, sister, and I all awakened to find some pretty great baskets filled with the usual: plastic "grass," eggs we'd dyed the day before (never as deep and rich as the colors on the package but delicious nonetheless), chocolate bunnies and eggs (yea! even if they did give me a headache), Peeps (gross) and jellybeans (even grosser, but they were all part of the experience). Anyway, I was pretty thrilled about my goodies -- until the neighbor's kid, a younger girl, trotted over to show hers off.
She'd hit the mother lode -- a huuuuge basket overflowing with an unimaginable array of goodies. I don't recall what was in that basket as we all compared at our backyard picnic table. I only know that hers made ours look paltry by comparison and made her seem much more special in her parents' -- oops! the Easter Bunny's -- eyes.
She was getting quite a kick out of it, too, until she turned her back to boast as our perpetually-scavenging beagle, Queenie, stuck her head into her basket and laid waste to it -- slobbering over what she didn't bolt down before we could pull her off it. (I'd like to think we did this as quickly as we could, but I'm not certain, all these years later, that we didn't wait a bit to see if the little show-off would notice what was going on behind her.) Of course, the poor little girl cried, and (I'm ashamed to say) my sibs and I laughed as she snatched up the wreckage and raced home with it to tell her parents what the walking garbage disposal had done.
Here in the land of working writers, each of us wakes to a basket. Some of the baskets contain no more than the fruits of the authors' labors (a completed proposal or a manuscript, query letters mailed out. Others contain the plastic grass and jellybeans of encouraging feedback or the Peeps and little chocolate eggs of agent requests or contest finals. Some will have a big, hollow rabbit thrown in for good measure, while others seem to have hit the jackpot, scoring riches that dwarf all others in comparison but can easily be gobbled up by forces outside of the authors' control.
The trick is keeping your eyes on your own basket. Savoring what you've achieved and planning for a fuller bounty next year. Lusting after someone else's does you no good, and as for complacency or boasting... Well, that's not only bad manners, but you could be tempting fate.
The hard truth is, somebody else will always have the fuller basket -- and Lord bless 'em for their fortune. But whatever's happening in their house has not one thing to do with you.
So Happy Easter, everybody! With my family away for the day, I'm off to count my blessings and get to work on the filling of a future basket!