By Darvell Hunt
It's a stupid thing to go camping in the snow in the middle of February, but that's exactly what I did last weekend. My ward held their annual Klondike Derby, an insane practice by scouts who happen to live in snowy regions like Utah.
The boy scouts did fairly well in the cold weather, except one eleven-year-old who got cold feet. Literally. My toes were well insulted with thick woolen socks and waterproof leather boots, but I also got cold feet. Figuratively.
It ended up becoming my task to take home the cold-footed scout, which was fine by me, as I didn’t have to spend the night in the sub-freezing weather.
So, as things turned out, many were cold, but few were frozen. The eleven-year-old's toes weren't really frozen, only very cold. And, best of all, I got to back out of camping in the snow and save some face as well.
But cold feet isn't what I'm writing about today. What I want to write about is bruised shoulders.
Last Sunday in Priesthood meeting, we sang the song "Put your Shoulder to the Wheel," which took on new meaning for me—a meaning that I've never really understood.
The hymn is a pioneer song about, presumably, pushing either a handcart or a wagon, possibly uphill or out of the mud. The song tells us to "put your shoulder to the wheel, push along."
I found myself doing just that at midnight on Friday night for about 40 minutes. Well, okay, I didn't put my shoulder to the wheel, but rather, I put my shoulder to the grill. The grill of my pickup truck, that is.
I got stuck in the parking lot trying to make my getaway—and this gets me to the whole point of this story. I put my greatest effort into getting my truck off the ice in the parking lot by pushing with the weight of my body. I found that I could move the truck further by planting my feet in the snow and putting my shoulder to the grill, than by spinning my wheels on the black ice. I exerted so much force on the front of my truck that the next morning I had grill-shaped bruises on my shoulder. I was also in considerable pain.
And now for that elusive point I’m trying to make: despite the opposition of cold, freezing weather, and a large patch of black ice, coupled with an upward slope, I gave my task my greatest possible effort to get my truck unstuck. That’s what writing takes. You have to give it your all in order to succeed.
Getting published is a lot like the Atonement. Okay, stick with me here, as I promise this will kinda-sorta make sense by the time I’m done. After all you do with your writing, it doesn’t make much difference unless your work attracts a publisher (if publishing is your goal, that is). Once you do find a publisher, they take the book from there, but despite all the considerable effort to that point, there’s only so much you can do.
Did I get my truck out? Yes, after about 40 minutes, like I said, but in the end, I bruised my shoulder in vain. Some other dad—who was picking up his cold son from the winter camp—saw me trying to get out of my parking spot and pulled me out with his truck. I could only do so much by “putting my shoulder to the grill, push along.”
As I see it, my job as a writer seeking publication is to do my absolute best work, then wave at every publisher I can see in attempt to attract them to pull me out of the slush pile and off the black ice that I always seem to find myself perched on, seemingly spinning my wheels. In the end, whenever that comes, I see my writing being pulled out and eventually ending up on the bookstore shelves.
Many novels are written, but few are published. I know, that doesn't sound as good as my title pun, but is nonetheless true.
See, that kinda-sorta made some sense, didn’t it?