“HOUSE OF CARDS”
I confess. I’m addicted to the Netflix show ”House of Cards.” Like millions of other viewers. I’ve devoured season two and am awaiting the yet unfinished third season.
Since I usually discipline myself not to get hooked on any series, I wonder about my fascination with this one. It’s true that the acting is excellent, the dialogue clever, and the fictional (?) machinations in Congress mesmerizing to those of us disgusted with the Washington scene.
Yet I would guess that the show’s popularity lies in something else. I think my co-addicts and I are fascinated by any character who refuses to be defeated, though you would shudder at having the live prototype in your life. Frank Underwood, the ruthless anti-hero of “House of Cards” and his equally amoral wife Claire never give up no matter what obstacles are placed in their path to power. A crucial Senate vote that goes against them? Allies who become enemies? A president who catches on to Frank’s schemes and bars him from White House meetings? Wouldn’t these cause any normal person to concede defeat? Not the Underwoods. They keep going, literally over dead bodies, because their aim is as focused as a light beam that never turns off.
On the other hand, how often does a rejection letter from an editor or a coldly formal response from an agent make us give up? Easy to succumb to the defeatist belief that our work isn’t good enough to be published. The standard advice is “keep submitting.” The dictionary informs us that the first meaning of “submit”“ is to “yield to the authority of another person.” What we forget is that the editor/agent/publisher rejecting us often reacts from individual feelings we know nothing about, and that may not be any measurement of our work.
The first short story I wrote was rejected 28 times. Yes, I gave up — who wouldn’t? (The Underwoods for one – or two.) Fortunately, a much more successful writer informed me that 28 rejections were nothing. “I’ve sent out some stories fifty times,” he said. Disbelieving, but ashamed not to try, I sent my story out again. On that 29th time, it was accepted.
As writers, we don’t have to be as ruthless as the characters in “House of Cards,” but we do need their kind of ironclad belief that ultimately our efforts will pay off. Though they only will if we get that manuscript off our desk and bravely send it out into the world again — and again.
I await further reinforcement from Season Three!
BOOKS: “Widow’s Walk” – available through iUniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow” -Xlirbis.com; “Ten Women of Valor” – CreateSpace.com and Amazon Kindle.