• Melanie McCree

Post #16: Me, On Paper

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

So... COVID isn't over yet.

They have this rule in place in our library system, that anyone who comes in without wearing a mask over both mouth AND NOSE has to either pull the mask up or we will kick them out. If we ask them three times and they still don't comply, we kick them out. If they make a big scene and frighten staff (yes, it has happened) we kick them out.

Thankfully, we haven't had to actually kick a whole lot of people out. We just have to constantly babysit. "Sir -" (it's almost always a guy) "- please pull your mask up over your nose." We even have a prerecorded message that plays at the top of every hour, telling people the mask has to cover both nose and mouth.

It could be worse. We could be school nurses. If you don't yet know how parents are treating school nurses, do a little news homework. The less I say on this topic, the better, because my temper often makes me write things I regret later. Let us leave it at, "some parents need a good butt kicking." I do not foresee a time where I will ever regret that statement.

Anyhoo, it's gotten so unpleasant around here, we are all constantly searching for ways to cheer ourselves up. I even composed a set of alternate lyrics to "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (composer Harold Arlen and lyricist Yip Harburg, and why isn't my name "Yip"?)


Somewhere over your nostrils

Not below

There’s a place, sort of mid-face

That’s where your mask should go.

Somewhere over your nostrils

Nothing sheer

Your bandana, your coat sleeve

Aren’t gonna work in here.

Raise the mask another inch and while you’re at it, why not pinch the wire?

We shouldn’t see your lips and chin a moment after you walk in

Your mask goes higher

Somewhere, over your nostrils

New germs brew

Rules say cover your nostrils

Why, oh why can’t you?

I may have cause to regret the above at some point later in my life, but at least I attributed the song to the real creators. They would be, in case you missed it, Harold and "Yip," and I like the name "Yip" better every time I see it.

I am happy to say that I am not spending all my writing time composing odes to nostrils. I really am still working on actual stories, although they are on hold for a bit while I try to get the whole book proposal thing sorted out. It seemed like a good idea to take my friend Dawn's advice and send one to a couple of other publishers.

Well. Easier said than done. There's lots of information out there on how to write a fiction proposal, and a lot of it is contradictory. The safest course, then, is to look at the submission guidelines. But there's a secondary problem, namely:

Can I be myself?

There are a couple of approaches I can take: (a) I could make the proposal very by-the-book. (b) I could write a proposal that represents the real me. Yanno. The me that writes songs about noses.

I honestly think there are arguments in favor in each case. If I go with choice (a), I can be sure I'm putting my best foot forward. Whoever reads it will be able to scan through easily, because it looks the way they expect a good proposal to look.

If I go with choice (b), it will show whoever reads it a bit of what they can expect from my book. There will be humor. It will also show the person what to expect from me. There will be humor. And it might make my proposal stand out a bit. Make it memorable in a good way.

Or it might make me look flippant and wreck my chances.

I'm approaching the proposal thing bit by bit, to give myself time to read everything over with a break in between. I figure, if I come back to something I've written a couple of days later and even I think it sounds flippant, I'd better delete it and start again.

For a short while, there was a spider living outside my craft room window. (I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.) I'm not afraid of spiders, so it didn't bother me to see him there; sometimes I'd watch him. It was undeniably creepy when he caught something to eat. He stayed poised over that little insect bundle a long time. I tried not to remember what I know about how spiders eat and looked at my craft stuff until he was done.

But that spider was constantly rebuilding. Every time something hit the web, every time he caught something. Whenever there was a hard wind or rain. Sometimes he'd restructure part of the web just because. Like he had some kind of ideal in his head and he was constantly tweaking this loop or that strand, adding an angle here or a curve there, in an attempt to match reality to vision.

One day I looked up and the spider and web were both gone. Spiders don't last all that long. But they spend their whole, short lives building the best web they possibly can, not by human standards, but by spider standards, which are far higher. And if something breaks, if something is torn to shreds, they rebuild and rebuild and rebuild.

Honestly. Writers can turn anything into a metaphor.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say, though. Don't give up? Be true to your vision? Listen only to those who know what they're talking about? Nourish your inner spinneretes? (Gross.) Maybe I'm thinking that spiders are never satisfied with their work. Maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe I'm just thinking that spiders never give up.

I'm assuming that the right proposal will get me a book deal. That's really not a logical assumption.

So, as I have said in the past, and will continue to say: you do the best you can with what you have at the time. I've reached the end of the post and I still don't know whether I'll choose "be all business" or "be myself." Hopefully by the time I reach the end of the proposal, I'll know what my best is.

Ha! Let's face it. I'll be lucky to figure that out before the end of my life on earth.


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