Being a Jelly in a Rhino Industry

Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her novels include Dead Reckoning and Nightshade (July 2010, Barbour Publishing), Discarded Heroes Book#1. She speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers.

Ronie can be found at www.roniekendig.com or www.discardedheroes.com.

A rhinoceros has a hide that ranges from 18mm to 45mm thick (for the non-math geniuses like me out there. . .there are 25.4mm per inch). These tough predators rely on their armor plating, their thick skin, and horns. Little affects them or penetrates the tough hide.

Compare that with another predator:

The jellyfish.

Stop laughing. You heard me, jellyfish. Jellies are actually very efficient predators. With a simple swish of their tentacles—tzap! They stun and kill their prey. Not bad for something that can weigh as little as four pounds! And their skin? Well, technically, they don’t have skin. It’s actually two layers of combined cells and a nerve net.

How fitting. You hear it all the time—writers need to have a rhino skin to survive this industry.

Well, what happens when you don’t? Because that’s me. I am not a thick-skinned person. I’m very sensitive and empathetic, softhearted if you will. While I will quickly add that unlike the jellyfish, I do have a brain and heart, it’s interesting that jellies are made up of nerve net that senses the presence of others. I’d like to think I do the same thing—I can sense pain and heartache. I’m not easily angered—unless I see someone being made fun of or ridiculed. I take things personally. . .because life is personal—it’s about people, about those around me.

So how does a jelly-skinned person like me survive in a supposed rhino-skinned industry? I really started wondering after my debut title, Dead Reckoning, released a few months ago. I mean, according to the rhino theory, I wouldn’t make it. I was hurting. I felt each “failure” keenly. I’m not wired in a way that I blow things off easily like some of my friends.

But here’s the deal: I am a writer, albeit a sensitive writer. And I’m determined to survive, so let’s look at how a sensitive Jelly like me can survive this industry that, as my agent has often been quoted as saying, will break your heart.

Jellies unite! Are you a Jelly? Recognize and embrace the fact that you’re a tentacle-stinging member of the Jelly Club. It’s okay. It’s not a bad thing. We’re just as much God’s creations as the rhinos out there.

Excuses are NOT allowed. Being a Jelly does not serve as a carte blanche for whining and moping. Softhearted doesn’t equal weak-kneed. Many Jellies are softhearted but also sturdy and determined. Dig into that sturdiness and be determined that you aren’t quitting. Besides, as my hubby always says, “What’s there to quit to?”

Languishing is also not allowed. Languishing gets you washed up on the beach (in other words, DEAD!). You know what happens then—kids poke your dying carcass with sticks. Since we want to remain strong, viable writers—no languishing!

Listen to those around you. Learn from them. No matter what stage of the publishing journey you’re at, there’s something to be learned. Learning means growing. Growing means advancing. Did you know that some jellyfish grow to 440 lbs! I want to be a Jelly giant. How about you?

Ignore the little voice in the back of your mind that says you’re a waste of cells and oxygen, that your writing is tripe. That thinking only leads to languishing, and we already know that’s not allowed unless we want to be washed-up writers.

Electrify! We might be smaller than rhinos but we Jellies can have an electrifying effect on those around us, in and through our stories, our writing.

Supplant the norm. They say we have to be thick-skinned to succeed. Let’s show them that Jellies have enough sting in them to not only survive but SUCCEED!

If we were all tough-skinned, type A personalities. . .wow, how lacking in diversity would today’s bookshelves be?

The point?

There are different kinds of writers. Being wired differently, with more “sensitive” pathways, is okay. And as long as you’re willing to do the work, take the feedback, continue to grow, and most importantly—WRITE!, then it doesn’t matter if your skin is made coarse hair or if you’re beautifully translucent.

Remember, being a “jellyfish” isn’t cause or a carte blanche to whine or languish. Use your sensitive Jelly nature and make it work for you!