Did you know: An elephant’s skin measures an inch or inch and a half thick.
Despite its thickness, an elephant’s skin is so sensitive, it can feel a fly land on its back.
What does that have to do with dogs?
Well, nothing, really.
But it has an awful lot to do with writing about dogs.
And it’s all leading to two big pieces of news that I’ve been waiting to share. Here goes:
If you spend a few minutes reading a post on any blog or social channel about dogs, you’re going to find some pretty wild stuff. If the post is about dog food or dog training? Forgetaboutit. I guarantee the comments include insults, name calling, and plain old meanness.
I suppose it comes from a good place. It has to, right? People wouldn’t react so passionately if they didn’t truly, honestly care about their dogs. Why they have to spew it on other people and their dogs is another issue.
But let’s use that as our starting line, shall we? Let’s assume people care passionately about the wellbeing of animals and think they’re trying to be helpful.
That’s why it helps to have thick skin like an elephant.
I’ve spent many years writing about dogs and cats. I’ve shouldered my share of angry comments from those with actual kernels of constructive feedback to those with nothing but aggression.
(Aside for a funny one: This guy spent who knows how long leaving comment replies on some of my older blog posts that said “ok cool who cares” and “ugh shut up” and so on, and he entered his email address as yourmom at gmail. Who has the time to do that kind of thing?!?!? Funny enough, I looked up his IP address, and he’s flagged as someone who vandalizes Wikipedia, so. Yeah.)
You’re probably wondering: Where the heck is she going with all this?
This leads directly to my first piece of news: I sold The Zero-Waste Pet website.
While I think angry comments probably start from a good place, for whatever reason, that site drew in the less constructive comments by the dozens each day. I don’t think I realized there was a space more reactionary than dog food or training, but it turns out sustainable living might have us beat.
The comments were sometimes helpful, cuing me into a better resource or strategy. But, most often, they were aggressive and mean. At least once a week someone emailed me or left a comment criticizing the site for having sponsors and ads because I was doing nothing more than pushing a consumer mindset. (OK, but, none of them were willing to send me money to pay hosting fees or, like, put food in my dog’s bowl so…) I also got a ton ton ton of comments that small actions aren’t enough, that doing a little isn’t a worthy effort, and people truly committed to sustainability wouldn’t have pets in the first place.
Each one was a fly on my elephant skin.
Ultimately, though, it came down to a simple fact of life: I ran out of time to moderate all those comments and reply to all those emails. I ran out of minutes in the day to deal with it all, and I truly couldn’t leave angry comments hanging without a reply (or without being deleted if they violated community guidelines). There wasn’t a single bit of stretch in my day to responsibly handle it any longer. Just as I was about to shut it all down, an investor approached me with an offer to buy. We worked out some details, and I handed over the reins. So, any content you see on that URL or Insta account no longer comes from me.
And, goodness, I felt a lot of peace letting that go. I was relieved, tbh.
I did retain the rights to the ebook I wrote, though I agreed to change the name so there wouldn’t be any brand confusion. If I can this summer, I’m going to revamp that resource.
And all that leads to my second piece of news: I got a literary agent!
If you’ve been around for a while, you might know I started writing a book just before the start of the pandemic. Over the last few years, I finished it, joined a critique group and edited it, then started to pitch it to agents. I had absolutely no wiggle room in my schedule because working on this book was my biggest priority. It still is. Letting ZWP go made even more room for it, and I think making that space allowed me to get to this point where I landed a literary agent.
So, what does that mean? Well, she has my proposal and manuscript, and she’s taking it out on submission to editors at publishing houses to find it a home. It’s another phase where an elephant’s skin is needed: thick enough to withstand more rejection and sensitive enough to learn and grow along the way.
Thank goodness all my years of writing about dogs have cultivated this thick, sensitive )and increasingly more wrinkled) skin!
While she’s out there slinging my book, I’ll be chipping away at some long-overdue blog updates and hanging out on Instagram. (BTW, are we IG connected yet?!?! If not, let’s get in touch!)
I hope you’re doing well. I hope your pets are thriving and you’re enjoying these first early sparks of spring. Please do connect on IG. I love seeing pics of everyone’s beloved animals! And let me know in the comments: Do you relate to this elephant skin analogy? It’s really resonated with me lately, but I’m guessing I’m not alone in that!
Chris from Boise says
Congratulations on being willing to let go of ZWP. It’s not easy to let go of a project you’ve created and believe in, but if the negativity from (some) commenters was weighing on you – AND the choice frees up more time for your other projects – yay you! Secondly, congratulations on finding a literary agent. I hope your manuscript ends up at an enthusiastic publisher who can get it out into our hands. 🙂