Deb Sarah falls on her face…. again and again

082_Sarah_Pekkanen_4X6I cheerfully admit to being the world’s biggest klutz. I often stumble over big, jagged patches of air in my path. In junior high school, I was gently asked to step away from cheerleading tryouts and never return (it’s probably for the best; I played field hockey instead and menaced opponents with my uncoordinated wielding of the stick). And if you saw me dancing, you’d run away screaming, “My eyes! My eyes! I’m blind!”

 I think it’s good I learned early on in life that it’s not the end of the world when you fall. Because the path to publishing is full of stumbles and near-misses, scrapes and pratfalls. And once you trip across the threshold into the actual world of publishing? Well, then it’s even easier to take a tumble – only now you’re on a bigger stage.

 So far, publishing has treated me very kindly. But I know there will be, um, less-than-glowing reviews in my future, because that happens to everyone, and I hope I can be as much of a good sport about it as Brad Meltzer was in this hilarious video

 Before writing The Opposite of Me, I used to work as a newspaper and magazine reporter, and I also encountered my share of bruises then. I was sumo-bumped off a U.S. Senate subway car by a particularly rotund politician who didn’t want to answer my questions. The chief of staff to a U.S. congresswoman unsuccessfully sued me after I exposed the fact that she set up a scholarship fund for poor kids in Detroit – then used the money to buy herself fur coats and jewelry. And an octogenarian member of the Senate squeezed me in a most unprofessional way. What I learned from it all – and what I remind myself as I venture into this new, unfamiliar twist of my career –  is to keep my head up, even as I’m tumbling to the ground.

 When I was a kid, I did gymnastics. I vividly remember trying to learn a cartwheel on a balance beam. Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest extracurricular choice for a girl like me who was all bony elbows and knees and whose only encounter with grace came when someone remembered to say it at dinner. I must’ve done a thousand cartwheels one summer, falling onto the floor and gathering yet another purple and yellow bruise for my collection. Then, on roughly try number 1001, I did it. A perfect cartwheel. No one was around to see, but that didn’t matter. Because I knew.

 Here’s what I’ve learned: Don’t be too scared of falling. Get up and brush yourself off, then try again. Oh – and the best tip of all is the one I didn’t learn until I was an adult: A couple glasses of wine and a little chocolate go a long way toward helping you heal, inside and out.

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13 thoughts on “Deb Sarah falls on her face…. again and again

  1. Dang. Sometimes I wonder why I volunteered to be the Friday Deb! I was trying to think of good twist on this week’s topic, “Fall” but you beat me to it. Hmmm…back to work! I wouldn’t want to take a fall from grace by copying your spin! Haha! Nice post.

  2. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down. It only matters how many times you get up! As the Japanese proverb goes: Fall down seven times; get up eight.

  3. Did you know there’s actually an art to falling safely? When you feel yourself about to go down, relax and let it happen. The pain of being hurt only comes when you try to fight the inevitable and, after all, falling isn’t failing…not when you try again!

  4. Sorry Joelle – I know you’ll come up with something great!
    Kathy, I hear you…. sounds like we were very much alike as kids.
    And wise words, Eve & Larramie. I’m going to remember them. Unless I fall and knock my head and forget everything 😉
    Kristina – someday we’ll get together in person to trade war stories. And Alicia, isn’t that video terrific? I love a man who can laugh at himself.

  5. I love when his mom is like, “That’s what I said, B+. Oh, D+? Well, you’ve got to earn a B+.” Awesome.

  6. Larramie–In my freshman dorm I had a bed that was bunked over my desk, high up. I fell out of it in my sleep one night, five feet down to the wooden floor and *broke my trash can* as I fell. Didn’t feel a thing; no bruises anywhere. So, yes! I agree with your relax-while-falling assertion!

  7. They say if you have to stop suddenly while driving, then don’t look in your rear view mirror because if you’re going to get hit, you’re going to get hit anyway and seeing another car coming at you causes you to tense and you get hurt a lot worse.

  8. I think this is also why babies sometimes survive plane crashes, right?
    I’m seeing an analogy for writing… don’t tense up and worry about failing; your writing will be worse because of it. Is this why some writers drink?

  9. Falling tells you all about your motivation.
    I don’t recall that Sarah ever fell much though. She was fast like the wind. She used to over-run the ball a lot in field hockey. She hdid have a hard time keeping her stick in time with where her feet had taken her. Fortunately, she doesn’t have any problem coordinating her words with her ideas.

  10. Aw, thanks Brendan! And we never would’ve won any field hockey games without you cheering us on (and pretending not to laugh when I, ahem, swung without making contact with the ball.. repeatedly!)

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