Every Sunday morning, I have the privilege of working with a group of Eighth Grade girls at my church, LCBC. They're an amazing group of young women and I learn so much from them. Some things are philosophical and some practical. Just last week, I learned a new definition of "Keeper." One of my girls, Joy, is a phenom in the Goalie position. She eats, sleeps, and breathes soccer (Facebooking about it at least once a day). [That's Joy in the picture]
As she filled me in on her recent try-out for travel soccer, she said "There's only one other Keeper." Head cocked, "What?" I asked. "Sorry," she replied. "A Goalie. A Keeper."
The formal definition of "keeper" states: "a person who guards or watches, as at a prison or gate." Of course the wheels of my writing mind immediately began spinning. Oh the metaphors... (Yes, we've confirmed I'm a geek. Who else thinks in metaphors?)
In life, we often use the word "keeper" to refer to friends or romantic interests. The term implies a level of uniqueness about a person. Someone who is kind, reliable, fun, and loyal. Someone you want to spend time with. Someone you want to "keep" in your life. My Eighth-grade life group is full of keepers. My honey's certainly a keeper. As are the friends I surround myself with (even those that cheer for Alabama).
Listening to Joy describe her job as a goalie, her description stretched beyond the scope of her words. I thought of my inner circle of keepers. When I'm hurting. When I'm in a dark place. When I need someone to deflect the shots life is throwing at me, they're my goalies. They protect me from the onslaught. When I need someone to guard or watch over me when I can't do it for myself. This is what it means to be a true friend. A true love. To take the shots for someone else.
Writers looks at agents through the lens of whether they're a Keeper. For the anecdotal reasons above: someone unique, kind, and loyal. For the soccer traits: someone standing between you and the outside world, deflecting shots. And for the layers within the formal definition: someone who guards and watches at a gate.
We writers sit alone and pour our hearts onto a keyboard. A work takes form that we nuture for months, years, or even decades. Our comfy chair, bunny slippers, and laptop monitor belie the journey ahead. Because the publishing world is big. Agents. Editors. Editorial boards. Copy editors. Back cover copy writers. Cover designers. And that's all before the book is published. Then there are marketing people, bookstore event planners, book signing and publicity tours, and you--the reader. To move into this world and expose yourself through your work, you need a Keeper. Someone taking the hits and guarding the gate.