Thursday, June 4, 2009

God can not steer a parked car

I grew up in a quirky household - surrounded by interesting, quirky people. Of course, I'm completely normal and not quirky in the least.

Stop laughing, it's true.

The point I'm trying to make is that we had unusual sayings that floated around and one of my favorites was:

God can not steer a parked car.

What does it mean?

Simple. It means keep moving. If you want forward direction in life -- and in writing -- keep trying, writing, moving forward.

Don't be afraid to take on that new project and let your muse lead you in a fresh and different direction. When you feel stale with one project, turn to another. When you finish a piece of work...put your nose to the grindstone and figure out your next step.

Don't rest on your laurels

That was another one that could be heard over the kitchen table.

Interesting experience:

I recently met an author who just got a two book deal with Simon and Schuster (yay, Kristen!). Her agent sold her novel that was completed and then he sold her work in progress at the same time.

Her WIP!

He had a synopsis and 50 pages and he sold it in a two book deal. Not a sequel to the first book, mind you. A completely separate novel.

So I ask....what would have happened if she never moved on to her new idea? If she would have just sat back on her laurels and not had a WIP?

Questions for you: Can anyone tell me what a laurel is? I'd love to know. Anyone? Also, what quirky sayings did you grow up with or do you use in your own home? And, how do you keep yourself going?


Lynnette Labelle said...

Great post! I love to hear stories like this. Very encouraging.

Lynnette Labelle

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Maybe it was originally "morals." But Uncle Fred heard Grandpa wrong and re-quoted it as "laurels."

Next family occasion tell them that you feel like you're "diagonally parked in a parallel universe."

Let 'em stew on that one over dinner. :)

L.T. Elliot said...

Laurels have been a recognized symbol from ancient Greece of acheivement and success. To rest on one's laurels meet to sit back and enjoy one's success. However, based on what your wonderful post just said, it means that you shouldn't just live off of your one success. Keep moving, keep dreaming, and get some more laurels to not rest on! =]

L.T. Elliot said...

oh yeah...Laurels are evergreen shrubs/trees

Tess said...

Seriously LT? Very cool!

And, Amanda - that's perfect. I'll have to use it at the next reunion :)

Anonymous said...

I feel smarter now that I know what Laurels are! Love the saying. I'm definitely not a parked car right now since we're moving from CA to Ohio next week, but the car I'm driving right now is not the one I want to be!

T. Anne said...

What LT said.
And thanks for my new favorite saying!

Jody Hedlund said...

I love that saying! In our writing, we can't get anywhere if we don't turn the ignition and start the car moving forward! I like the idea of always working on something. We never know how it might pay off!

Wendy said...

I don't know about quirky, but I heard a lot of "wait until your father gets home" and "I'm counting" from my mom.

Keeps me going: Thoughts that pop up in my brain and need a place to go.

~ Wendy

Jill Kemerer said...

I love the first quote!! It's so true. mom and dad had many a winning saying. My dad's? "Do you want a hot butt?" To which we would reply "I'll go turn the burner on." We were snotty kids! My mom's? "Well, we still have our health."

Michelle said...

Around here, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the mountain laurels are blooming right now. If you look for a Google image, I'm sure you'll find one.

Aside from the original translation given by LT, I'd say it would be pretty hard to literally rest on a laurel. They're big bushes! Now every time I pass one, I'm going to imagine trying to sit on it and being so uncomfortable that I keep moving.

Tess said...

Candice - moving can be so time consuimng. here's wishing all goes well and you can get back to your writing soon!

TAnne - glad you liked it

Jody - you got it, girl. when I was little, those saying were just plain embarassing. Now I kind of like them.

Wendy - 'I'm counting' - oh, no! I use that one myself :0....and, could you send a few of those ideas over here? I'm feeling awfully stuck these days on the new idea front!

Jill - I am cracking up here....'do you want a hot butt?' How come my dad never said sounds just like him! And, you were a sassy child, weren't you ;)

Michelle - now, if I ever see a laurel bush, I'll have an image of you trying to sit on it. too funny! I bet the Blue Ridge Mtns are beautiful. Do you ever use those images in your writing??

lotusgirl said...

Briefly...In mythology, Apollo was in love with Daphne. She wasn't really interested, so she tried to get away from him and called to her dad to help her out. He changed her into the Laurel tree. Apollo still loved her and made her his tree. In competitions in ancient times, a wreath of Laurel leaves would be put on the head of the winners in honor of Apollo. So, to rest on your laurels is to rely on your previous successes and not work for new ones.

I love your family sayings. We had plenty. A favorite was "If you move, you lose." It sounds very contradictory to yours, but really it's about your seat. There was no fighting over seats.

Sharon aka Sapphire said...

Great post, Tess! I've been sitting on my laurels all day. Your post has inspired me to finish my WIP, so I can start on another one that has been brewing in my mind since January.

I think my mom's favorite saying was "close the door I didn't raise you in a barn." Ironically, we were living in a house that looked like a barn with a sunroom added on to it.

Joyce Wolfley said...

ok. It didn't save my comment and I'm not retyping it. Here's the gist: Great post - great pic - great deal.

Diana said...

Hi, Tess!
I just took a break from my WIP and meandered to your site. Great post!
Hmmm...a saying from our childhood days, eh? Well, I remember plenty of times when my mom wouldn't give me permission to do something or wear something or go somewhere. Then I'd whine, "But ALL my friends can do that (or wear that, or go there)." (which was a complete exaggeration) Her reply always was, "And if your friends jumped over the bridge, would you do the same?" Okay, it's not as insightful as your parked car or laurels saying.
"First one up is the best one dressed." was Bob's mother's favorite reminder to her 3 sons...especially in their teenage years. Looking back at the pictures, I suspect Bob must've slept in a bit. hee-hee

Tess said...

lotusgirl - great insight, thanks. I'm looking forward to telling this to my husband tonight...I think he'll get a kick out of it.

Sharon - how funny that she would choose that saying in light of the circumstances. moms (even us) are funny sometimes.

Joyce - been there, done that. thanks for trying :0

Diana - hello, friend! nice to have you visit :) Too funny about the 'all my friends' line. I think we've all tried (unsuccessfully) to pull that one - lol!

Sarah said...

Yay, Lotusgirl! I was reading through the comments, geeking out like that annoying kid in class who waves her hand at the teacher, squealing, "Pick me! I know!!"

To continue the geeking out...

Think about it. You COULDN'T rest on your laurels. Our modern day Olympic victors have a medal that they can show grandkids- they hold some bit of that victory for as long as the gold or silver or bronze (and whatever else metal is used in the middle) lasts.

Greek Olympians had the laurel for a few days. Six months later, they had compost. Nice visual of transience of success. But don't get too ambitious- hubris could get you toasted. Just ask Icarus. Go figure...

Sorry, I'm finished now.

Diana said...

Oh, man, talking about Greeks is making it very hard for me to suppress my geekness...Too many trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sometimes the champions were given amphora, too, those orange and black vases you see in the museums. They were once filled with oils that could be lathered on the body. I will say no more, lest this thread go down a slippery slope.

Tess said...

Sarah and Diana - you guys rock! I'm really loving this thread. Thanks to all the commentors for the great fun.

Any others out there???

Sarah said...

Tess, so glad you didn't mind the forays into Greek geekiness!

Oh, Diana, I envy you those trips to the Met. I visited once for a few hours when I was in NYC. Drove the guard (that's not the right word- man in dark suit) for the reliefs from the Temple of Nimrood nuts. I think he thought I'd kiss it or something. (Tempting.) And don't get me started about the Temple of Dendur.

Diana said...

ha-ha-ha! Sarah, you're so funny!
Tess, thanks. It was great to hang out amongst friends and fellow writers. :)

Tess said...

To say thanks gives me credit for your cleverness. It should be me thanking you guys -- I looked so smart to my hubby last night - lol.

Danyelle said...

Great post, Tess! And you're absolutely right, we need to keep moving forward.

*seriously hopes her career never rests on her ability to outline*

lotusgirl said...

It not all just Greek geekiness. There's Roman geekiness in there too. The Romans used the laurel wreaths as well. I gotta plug my Romans! And yes, I really am an uber-nerd. What do you expect from a Latin major?

lotusgirl said...

My word verification was "scient." After that last statement I just had to share that. It's latin for "they will know." Heehee! So now you will all know how nerdy I really am.

Tess said...

Danyelle - me, too!

lotusgirl - seriously? You know latin. Man, you ARE smart. (and that's not sarcastic, I'm really impressed!

Robyn said...

Laurels--distinction, I think. The saying that I grew up with? My dad or pappy as he loved to be called always said this, "The first hundred years are the hardest." So that's my mantra! Especially right now.

Diana said...

lotusgirl and anyone else who's into Roman history-
There's a really fun mg called DETECTIVES IN TOGAS by Henry Winterfeld. Absolutely hilarious - my boys loved it (me too). So, see...all that geeky nerdiness can be put to good use in a novel! :) Go for it!

Sarah said...

Oh ... Diana, Detectives in Togas sounds great. Thanks! I'll look it up. Gotta say, I'm also a fan of the Percy Jackson series (back to Greece).

Lotusgirl, went by your profile, and I gotta say... you've got impeccable taste in movies. Haven't run into anyone who liked A&E's Pride and Prejudice PLUS Bride and Prejudice, except for my friend, Enesa. (But I think that's why we're so close.) And North and South? As Enesa, who is from Bosnia said, "Ooooooo, Mr. Torn-ton!"

Okie- dokie, then. I'm going to go fold some laundry.

dellgirl said...

This is a great post, I love it! I must remember your first quote when I find myself parking for too long.

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

Don't rest on your laurels-simply means
Don't rest under a tree when you can keep moving.
or Don't count on things before they happen.

Just my take on it.

One of our saying was "We are as slow as a heard of turles."

And "Never watch someone leave, because you always want to watch them come home." To this day when my children or husband leave I never watch, because I always want them to come home. I have been married with children for 10 and I have never watched them leave.

Dave said...

Thanks so much for this post, really!!!

I've got to get moving on the next book, and your friend's success story is a perfect example of what can happen. That's motivation. Acually, I have an idea. It's basically that I am too much of a perfectionist. I'm to the point of generating a volcanoes worth of emotion and mind power to move a grain of salt. That's what it feels like at any rate.

I WILL remember this story and get rolling on the next book.


I have a six year old girl and a three year old boy. For some reason they love chanting the sayings my wife and I use.

Picture them at the dinner table, just little kids, using the God voice I try to playfully use on them. Picture the voice that comes out of a megaphone, if you will, but coming out of kids:

If you don't eat your dinner (big pause) you don't get desert! (big smiles and laughs)

The other one that cracks them up is:

You get what you get ... And you don't throw a fit.

I think it is the rhythm of it and the irony of them saying it that makes it so funny for them.

By the way, back in college I had someone use your God can't steer ... saying on me, but it was a sailboat, not a truck. Actually, I liked the saying quite a bit.