Someone on the grounds crew at the Corporation of Yaddo, the artists colony in Saratoga Springs N.Y., has a sense of humor. In the “Breast Room” (so-called because Philip Roth wrote “The Breast” while residing in it) of the West House building, the shower is mislabeled. When one turns the dial from off at the bottom, through C, to H at the top, the water gets (and stays) cold. However, if one moves the lever just above the off switch where one would assume the cold would be, hot water comes blasting out. Clearly, someone was encouraging Roth to take a cold shower when he stayed here. And, how different literature would be if he had.
Or maybe the installer of this shower was encouraging those writers residing here to learn the lesson, of “getting hot water when the tap says ‘cold.’” This could certainly be the story of my own writing life, persisting in writing, realizing that even though I’ve gotten plenty of rejections and cold water thrown in my face, the hot water is still there if only I know how to get to it. In this case, all I had to do was ask the groundskeeper; I wish it were only so easy to find an agent to start turning cold water to hot.