I went to the kind of elementary school that boasted not only a rosy cheeked librarian and a well-loved bike rack, but a lively literary tradition. A few times a year my school brought in authors to speak. Where they found them I’m not sure. The yarn store? The coffee shop? All I know is that a few times a year, with hair that kissed the back of their knees and beards that seemed to be missing harmonicas, these ethereal weirdos would waft onto campus and teach us about the art of writing, the secret to drawing a good alpaca, and the importance of perseverance. Giddy for a good story, we sat on the library carpet, whose hue was impossible to identify—Purple? Green? A greyish, brain-in-a-jar color?—and listened.
While every peasant-skirted writer was a delight, I remember in particular the author who wrote a book called Nobody’s Diggier Than a Dog.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she said. “You’re thinking, ‘Nobody’s diggier than a dog? I could have written that.’”
We nodded in agreement.
“Well, you didn’t. I did,” she said. “And that’s the difference between us.”
If it sounds like the author was lording her publishing credits over a room full of barely potty trained knee skinners, she was. Frankly, I think about this woman every day.
I think about her when friends lament their lack of motivation or fret about writing something that’s already been done. I want to shout, “Nobody’s diggier than a dog!” which is to say, the only difference between someone with a published book, poem, or article is the number of times they have tried.
How am I diggier than a dog, you may ask. Well, in 2022 I submitted to 120 contests, publications, and journals. Of these 120, 8 were yeses. 112 were nos. While I’m incredibly proud of my 8 yeses, I’m also proud of my 112 nos. It is quite easy to sit back and pout about all the literary magazines who do not want to taste what you’re peddling, much harder to keep submitting. My advice is to imagine yourself as a woman with a dog who digs. You could lock the dog inside, sure, but what if you took a moment to set down your tea and watch him dig instead? What if you let the wonder overtake the disappointment, the fear, and the downheartedness? I suspect that if you do, you will someday find yourself in front of a group of children. You will read your words, and somehow, miraculously, you will be more delicious than recess.