When I was a kid, my dad told me a lot of stuff. Always check your fly. Life’s not all beer and skittles. But some of it was actually helpful…
When I was a younger Southern California person, earthquakes were a big deal. A Big Deal.
There was that movie with Charlton Heston called, you know, Earthquake. That was a big deal. I thought his costar Genevieve Bujold was a big deal, but for a different reason.
There was that earthquake where a freeway overpass fell and squashed a quartet of phone company guys in their pickup truck as they were headed for work. That was a big deal.
And that one where the CHP motorcycle officer tried to race across a bridge that was suddenly no longer there. That, too, was a pretty big deal.
I remember one, a little later, where a locomotive got tossed off the tracks. That was a plenty big deal.
Seismologists back in the day were all worried about the big one. The Big One. The. Big. One. Folks in Arizona were going to get beachfront property. I’d invest in a boat if I was you, because the Big One’s coming! Steely Dan: “California tumbles into the sea, that’ll be the day I go back to Annandale.”
I asked my dad if he thought the Big One was coming, and he said something I’ll probably never forget:
“Let me telling you something. You’re walking down the street, and suddenly there’s a tiny 1.1 sized earthquake. So small you don’t even notice it. But, it’s enough to dislodge a brick from the top of the building next to you. When that brick hits you on the head, there’s your Big One.”
So, you see, it’s not the scale of the event, it’s the impact of the event. What makes it Big is the impact it has on you. You’re the One it impacts. In thinking about it, of course, if I happen to be sunning myself on some beach in Jamaica and an earthquake throws California into the sea, that might be considered the Big One, whether it impacts me or not. Best not to look too deep into my dad’s aphorisms…
So, what in heaven’s name am I rambling on about now? What does this have to do with anything?
You’re a writer. You know how it goes. You work and work and work and create a masterpiece, and then, if you’re like me and don’t already have a literary agent, you float it out upon the email airwaves and hope and wait and hope and wait for an agent to read it and go “hot dang, Sunny Jim, you got yourself a winner there!” Okay, maybe you’re not like me, but you get the gist.
All it takes is a literary agent, just one, to like it. To read it and understand it and say “I can sell this.” Just one. Solamente uno.
And then, like a brick to the head, your life is different. Like a dropping owwy-maker from away on high, your writing career stops being a dream and becomes something tangible.
Waiting for that agent. That one. That Big One. That’s the deal. The dope. It’s what I’m doing, and it’s making me three quarters crazy!
Better maybe to go search for a falling brick.