Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gators - the wild kind and the publishing kind

Most folks associate gators with Florida, due to its balmy temps and large swamps. Others may think of the Lousianna bayous when the word gator comes to mind. But I'm hear to tell you we have lots of gators in coastal Georgia. The mighty Altamaha delta is near here, and it is truly a gator heaven on earth.

Thanks to my friend who works for Ga. Department of Natural Resources, I know just enough info about gators to get in trouble. He says gators are on the move this time of year, particularly the males, as they search for mates. If you come across one in your yard, unless the situation is dangerous, leave it alone and it'll keep right on going.

Wearing my hat of accidental reporter, I recently had the opportunity to write about the beautiful wood stork colony out at Harris Neck Wildlife Preserve, which is in my home county. The wood stork colony nests on an island that is surrounded by gators. The gators keep any raccoons from swimming across and getting into the colony, and the refuge manages the water level of Woody Pond to be too high for optimum feeding of the wood storks, so they mostly fly to other nearby areas for feeding, keeping them from being a home pie alligator snack.

And here's a pic of a Harris Neck gator in Woody Pond, courtesy of Sharon Lindsay, a wildlife photographer who subbed her pics for our weekly paper. She got a great shot, didn't she?

But to put this in context of writing, I think there are plenty of gators out there in the publishing world. We feel the pinch of their massive jaws when the rejection letters come in. We shudder in the death roll when an unflattering review comes out. For the most part we're content to plod along in the publishing world, walking among the gators, as it were, until one of them takes a chunk out of us. That smarts, but we knew they were there all along, didn't we?

Care to relay a story about your "gator" experience in publishing? I'd enjoy hearing from you in any event!

Maggie Toussaint
Muddy Waters, coming Oct. 22


  1. These are great photos! I've been down there and I know how swampy it is - I only hope the oil doesn't destroy your coastline!
    I've run into a few proverbial gators as I've made my way through the publishing world swamp. It's not pleasant. I suspect the sight of a real gator would be more exciting. Comes with the territory.

  2. I'm still waiting for a run-in with a publishing gator, so I'll have to wait and see. As for the real thing, I can wait forever to tangle with one of those.

  3. Nice blog I enjoyed the comparison as Polly mentioned no real gators or publishing ones yet. I had one rejection on a contest win requested partial. If it had been anything but rejection I'd have needed cpr it wasn't ready but everyone said send and I polished and shined too hard I lost the inside of it. But I know what they meant in the rejection and no biggie. I'm alive to tell about it lol.

  4. Ah...I like my gators fried.

    We have some on our camp property in Louisiana, and it is best to watch the kids and any pets.

    The best advice is to research to see if there are gators around you. Though some are sneaky and can swim underwater and then bite you in the as......

  5. Fascinating about gators! Great photos! Re publishing, I think you need to take care - always look at sites like Preditors and Editors and never go with any publisher that asks you for money.

  6. I've never seen an alligator in the wild. I think it would freak me out:(((( I'm sure I've magnified the dangers in my mind, but they certainly seem sinister!!!!

  7. All we have here are foxes and coyotes -- no gators could survive our weather. Wish I could say the same about publishing gators!

  8. Haven't run into any publishing gators lately, but will stay on the lookout!

  9. When I lived further South in middle Georgia, we had a 'gator that stayed in a small pond about two miles back in the woods from our house. And when I lived in Jacksonville, FL, we would take our two young daughters to the campus of UNF where they had some great rec areas for fishing. Of course, they had 'gators in those ponds, too, and one was well known for having lost a forelimb to another, larger or faster 'gator.

    The girls would toss slices of bread to the gator and he would eat them, but one day I tossed a chicken (from the grocery store) out there so they could see what they would do to meat. Two of the big lizards ripped the chicken apart and thrashed at the water with their tails, and it utterly convinced the girls to stay away from the edge of the water when I was not right beside them.

  10. MAGGIE--what's a gator? Okay, that wasn't so funny. I think Texas may have a few alligators--we have a little of everything, you know!--probably on the Lousiana border where their swamps creep into our swamps. See, we have swamps, too.
    Sure, I've had rejections, and I'm a big girl, so I can take something from it, forget it, move on. It's when the rejection is so harsh that I feel I've had my arm taken off and my heart stabbed. Ever have that happen to you? Not fun, but I won't let it happen again. Good post--Maggie--you're off to a running start! Celia

  11. There is something seriously creepy about alligators and sharks. I think it goes back to their being such ancient creatures. Not a lot of evolutionary updates needed when you are at the top of the food chain. Brrr!

  12. Looks like we're off to a great start here! I'm so glad each and every one of you dropped by.

    Welcome, Julia. Seeing a real gator in the wild still makes my heart stop. They eat meat. I'm meat.

    Hey Polly, I hope you don't ever run into the Publishing Gator. You need the Publishing Fairy Godmother, who I hope is winging her way to you after your recent contest success.

    Kathy, I hear you about over-polishing a story. That's a matter of writer maturity. When we try to please this critique partner or that contest judge too much we can sometimes lose our connection with the story. Best to put the overworked one aside for a bit and have a go at something else. How do I know this? I made the same mistake. Believe me, I've made them all!

    Hey Miss Donna down in Louisianna. I've never been brave enough to eat gator. I don't stray too far from pre-packaged meat at the grocery store. You are wise about gator safety!

    Lindsay, thanks for dropping in. I know how busy you are with Lindsay's Romantics and I thank you for your support and friendship.

    Hi Gail! Gators are indeed scary. I've kayaked in rivers where they are swimming or lazing around. Not the brightest thing I've ever done.

    Foxes and coyotes would scare me too, JL. Thanks for dropping in.

    Liana, You'll know a publishing gator the split second before his jaws latch onto you. Those gut instincts that people ignore - you need those around publishing gators!

    You win the day with your gator story, Tony. I've always been surprised that gators like bread (but who doesn't like a good carb?). Once on an airboat ride my husband and I took through the everglades, our tour guide stopped at a certain point and fed gators some bread balls. I don't remember if this was part of the tour or not, but I remember thinking I sure hope the fan on this thing doesn't conk out.

    Thanks everyone!!! Please continue to comment. I've got to take a break for my day job!

  13. I once interviewed a rice farmer, and as we started into the field, he reached into his truck and pulled out a rifle. I glanced at him, and he said, "for the gators. You're about bite size."

    I've run into my share of publishing gators, but so far none have taken a limb.

  14. :) Maggie, we had a gator/crocodile (I don't knwo the difference) hauled out of a pond in NE Texas this past year. Geezzz. So yeah, they're definitley not confined to just the Southern shores. Enjoy your weekend! ^5


  15. Maggie, awesome photography. I never thought Gators could be so beautiful. I really have no gator writing bits to speak of, but I think it's a great analogy. Thanks for sharing, Sweetie.


  16. First, let me say that I love the title of your blog. (g)

    We visited NOLA in March and saw some the zoo. We debated on going on one of those swamp rides, but found out early enough that the snakes and gators would all be hibernating at that time due to the cold. I am glad we did. What a waste of money and time that would have been!

  17. Beautiful pictures Maggie. I thought we had the monopole of gators here in Florida although I never saw one. I saw plenty of iguanas from tiny ones to huge ones you can mistake for a green gator from far. But I'd rather not meet with a gator in open fields or in publishing field.

  18. HI Maggie, from a Native Floridian! Gators.....the stories I could tell! Ever heard of "Devil's Garden"? (My grandfather named that place as he was the first settler there). Anyhoo, years ago when I was young (okay NOT telling how MANY years ago that was! lol!) you could drive through Devil's Garden and there would be COUNTLESS gators on the road, alongside the road, everywhere. You'd have to drive really slow to dodge them.

    As for Publishing gators! Unfortunately I tangled with one last year. Luckily since I knew so much about the REAL gator, I was able to come out of that struggle intact! LOL!

    GREAT Post! And love your Blog title!

    hugs, Kari Thomas,

  19. I've only seen gators at the zoo or in media and pics... except for tiny just-hatched ones. I have to admit, I think the little ones are kinda cute in that primitive *I'm going to grow up and eat you* sort of way.

    I've had a few gator experiences in publishing, along the lines of *I don't have a properly working brain and can't comprehend your story* ... therefore, I'm going to put it down in that junior school cliquish sort of way *Oh, I wouldn't recommend this to my friends* ... or, call your submission stagnant and immature writing... I've learned the hard way during my life that whenever I get this type of response and it's patently false, somehow, the person's buttons have been pushed... and, run like hell away from them.

    I've also had absolutely wonderful experiences during this whole publishing journey, that I wouldn't trade for anything. It more than makes up for the gators.

  20. Gosh, what a fantastic response today! I'm so excited about so many friends stopping by and leaving comments; and I've heard from folks who came and didn't leave comments too, so it's all good.

    Trying not to forget a name here: thanks to Celia, Keely, Keena, Diana, Steph (our birthday girl, LOL), Anthology Authors, Mona, Kari, and Savanna for their remarks and gator adventures. Glad to know ya!

  21. Ah, I vividly remember when we had moved to GA temporarily and my husband came back from the golf course riled up about the gator he saw on the course! I never saw one while there and that's okay with me.

    As for publishing: I think I'm stuck in a swamp but so far the gators are only circling. ;-)

  22. I lived in a golf community here in FL for a few years, and behind our house was a lake. Beyond the lake was the golf course. We'd regularly see an 8-10 foot gator sunning himself on the course. A golf cart would come over the rise and the gator shot into the water. I always wondered how the golfers would react if they knew they'd come that close.


  23. When I lived on Big Pine Key (near Key West) there were huge iguanas in our canal. They were primitive, beautiful and non-scary. But they also swam in prehistoric manner that sent shills up my back. (And that was hard to to in south Florida.)
    Gators were fine from a distance, a long distance.
    As far as the publishing industry, sometimes a rejection is the best thing.

  24. Congrats on the blog. Great start. I came to it by reference from your photographer friend, Sharon Lindsay, a mutual friend, who knows me both as a photographer and a writer.
    It's easy to avoid those publishing gators. Just don't ever submit anything. But that's a different sort of danger for a writer, isn't it? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    I look forward to following your blog, and perhaps to making a new writing friend.

  25. Hiya Valerie, Loraine, Dianne, Amber and Bdsdude, thanks for stopping in. I hope you made yourself at home and that you'll visit again.

  26. Maggie,
    I grew up in South Florida, Everglades country, and seen more than my share of gators. Loved the post and the pics.


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