Dealing With Pessimists

As an author, I often receive criticism about what I do. Not if I’m good or not, more like people simply doubting that anyone who wants to be an author could actually become that. Today I had an exchange with someone who called into question my ability to do what I do. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, and it sure as Hell won’t be the last. But when this sort of thing happens, I always think of an old story I heard years and years ago. I think it’s good for other aspiring artists, or anyone who wants to make their dream a reality, to read. And remember it when someone tries to tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams.

There was once a swamp full of frogs. These frogs all went about their day without trouble, no one doing anything to upset the daily routine. One day, however, a small group of young frogs came across a tree at the edge of the swamp. The tree was rather tall, but had a delicious looking fruit growing from the high branches. The frogs all wanted to eat the fruit, so tasty did they look, but they were afraid of climbing the tree, because it was far taller than anything else they had seen in the swamp, and they were only small frogs.

Finally, one frog worked up his courage and began to climb the tree. As he climbed, the other frogs gathered below and started to call out to the climbing frog, yelling, “Come down, you won’t make it! You’ll fall! Come back, you’ll fall!”

The first frog made it about a quarter of the way up the tree before he finally lost his grip and fell back down to the swamp.

Another frog suddenly decided to give it a try. He hopped forward and began to climb. As soon as he started to climb, the other frogs all began to shout again, “Don’t do it, you’ll fall! It’s too big, you won’t do it! You’ll fall!”

The second frog made it a third of the way up the tree, but then slipped and fell back into the swamp.

It continued that way all morning. A frog would attempt to climb the tree, and as the other frogs all shouted their doubt down below, the frog who was climbing would eventually slip and fall.

Finally, the smallest frog hopped forward. He said nothing to the other frogs, but just began to climb. The frogs down below all yelled out as they had with all the others, shouting, “You’re going to fall! Don’t do it, come back! You’ll fall!”

But the little frog just kept climbing. He made it a quarter of the way up, a third, then halfway. The frogs down below started to yell louder, insisting that he would fall, that he can’t make it, to just stop.

Still, the little frog climbed. He climbed all the way to the top of the tree, made his way out onto the branches and began picking the delicious fruit. He ate his fill, then dropped some down to the other frogs down below. He then easily climbed back down to meet up with the group of frogs who all stared at him in amazement.

“How did you do that?” they all asked the little frog.

But the little frog was deaf.

He never heard them shouting their doubt. And because their pessimism went unheard, there was nothing to stop the little frog from succeeding.

EXCELSIOR!

Like every writer out there, when I have an idea for a story, I write it down and set it aside to come back to later. However, I recently found a note set aside, buried amidst numerous other papers and notes, that I have absolutely no freaking idea what I was thinking. Or even why I would write it down! The note simply reads:

EXCELSIOR!

Written just like that, as well. All capitals and an exclamation point at the end. I always associated the word with medieval times and King Arthur and stuff like that, but I have never written, nor do I anticipate writing, anything medieval-esque. So why did I write this obscure word down? And why did I write it like the idea was exciting and brilliant?

There is an episode of South Park that features a parody of Al Gore, who shouts this word every time he leaves the scene. Is that what I was referring to? Did I think it was that funny, I had to write it down immediately? Doubtful. I am left with no choice at this time to continue trying to find the answer to this mysterious note.

According to Urban Dictionary, excelsior is, “A phrase often shouted after succesfully completing a mission.”

Well, this ties in with the Al Gore thing, but what the hell did I write it down for? Was I feeling triumphant? Did I just smash out an epic chapter of Reaper and feel like shouting my triumphs, but couldn’t because I was on the train? Naturally the reasonable solution to this would be to write down my triumphant shout, who wouldn’t do that? (Epic sarcasm)

To further add to my confusion, Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel Comics, used this word as a sign-off for decades! Why the hell have I written this word down? I have absolutely no idea.

My quest for answers continues.