Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Goodness, that sounds scary, especially if the venture takes you into new territory. Small children have advantages over adults when it comes to trying new things. For them, everything is a new and they have the luxury of loving backup. If they fall while learning to walk, they’re close to the ground and, most likely, there’s an attentive parent or guardian watching and ready to scoop them up for a hug. For adults though, taking those first steps can be pretty scary.
Which brings me to the quote I found the other day. It’s terribly fitting for me as I prep my novel to send it to an editor who asked to see it. Ray Bradbury said it:
You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time, and build your wings on the way down.
He doesn’t mention a parachute or a bungie cord. It’s a hurtling toward the earth statement. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for the jump — your own experience and the expertise of those who jumped before you. So, when you’re at the cliff edge and it’s time to take the leap of faith, it’s good to remember all those who helped you learn how to build wings. So thank you to my writer friends and all those whose books and magazine articles brought me to this point. I’ll be air-born any day now.
Today I’m tickled to say that the novel I’ve been working on is a step closer to being ready for submission. Yes, it’s done — okay, another read-through wouldn’t hurt. Yes, the format and paging is consistent — although I might want to check it again. Yes, there’s a list of agents for me to consider — yikes, agents: folks who’ve read hundreds of books and each of them have particular likes and dislikes. That’s scary, maybe I should —
No. I’m not going to put the book in the bottom drawer of my desk and let it cool until the next century. No. I’m not going to lie down and bury my head with my pillow. Writers are notoriously introspective and shy, but I’ll be bold and get my novel out there. I’ll do it by pretending I’m someone else, someone with confidence and tremendous writing abilities. Yup. That’s what I’ll do. If I need more encouragement I’ll look back at the quote above my computer. The one I kept in mind as I wrote. The one I think I lived up to.
Phyllis Naylor said,
The reader must sense that she has not merely stepped into a book but into a tangled web of emotions and conflicts that aren’t going to be easily resolved.
(Good grief – that sounds a lot like real life)
Keep your fingers crossed for me. Advice would be appreciated.
I love quotes: brief lines stating a truth uttered by someone and preserved in print and memory. Most of them are only a sentence or two. Their brevity is part of their appeal. For me, a quote is like a cubby-hole door to a whole world of thought.
Of course I collect quotes. At one point I taped them to my refrigerator. (Yes, this was ages ago, before Post It notes.) I never thought much about using my fridge as a bulletin board until I found a neighbor girl standing in my kitchen reading the lines I’d taped there. It’s good to get ideas/truths/quotes out where people can appreciate them — even if it’s only on the door to a refrigerator. Now, of course, I have this blog, so I’m going to go back to posting quotes and maybe even short poems or bits of poems, and sometimes I’ll add my personal take on them. Here’s one now.
This morning, as fumbled through my kitchen half-asleep, ousted from bed much earlier than I wanted to be, the first line of an Emily Dickinson poem floated through my mind: I started early, took my dog… The cadence of the words held me spell-bound as I considered how those brief lines set the mood, created a visual scene, and hinted at a deliberate destination. As a writer of fiction, I was swept away. I could see a woman, lost in thought, with her dog trotting beside her, heading for a specific destination.
What she’s going off to do or experience is the subject of scholarly debate. I don’t intend to wade into those waters –the poem has her walking into a metaphoric sea — I’ll end my musings on the shore. Those few lines have given me enough to think about. I hope they’ll have you thinking too, about the power of carefully chosen words.
Thick snow-dots danced in the crisp air as I walked to the mailbox this morning. After sitting indoors all winter, walking the quarter-mile drive is a start toward getting in shape for gardening. It didn’t seem like there was any wind until I turned to walk back to the house. The cold hit me and I pulled up my hood wishing I’d worn my winter jacket.
April is the cruelest month. Yesterday’s temp was in the high sixties. Today, below freezing. The daffodils don’t seem to mind the wild fluctuations between spring and winter. They’re braving the cold, pushing their greenery skyward. I’ll take that as a sign of hope — no, a sign of faith that the sun will grow warmer and spring will be here to stay.
Emily Dickinson caught this morning’s feeling years and years ago:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
I’m early. I know. But the temps are in the fifties and even my fall jacket is much too warm. Yesterday Culvers put out their patio furniture and today Mom and I sat on it while we sipped hot coffee and savored cold vanilla custard. The sun was bright, the wind was more of a breeze ruffling our hair and everyone who passed us as we sat there smiled as if to say ‘look at that! It’s warm enough to sit outside.’
Next week we may get a blast of snow, or hail, or slushy rain — for right now though, it feels like spring. While poking around on quotegarden.com I found this poem by Lilja Rogers that captures spring very well.
First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus —
Over the years, and there have been a good number of them, I’ve made many, many New Years Resolutions. Very few of them stuck, mainly because they were in my head instead of out where where I could see them. That’s right: I didn’t hang a note on the refrigerator with a magnet, or write a message on a Post It note and stick it to my computer. I just kept my resolutions in my head, where they got lost among the floating debris from half-baked ideas. Last year I got wise to what was happening and wrote my resolutions in my weekly planner in the form of a check list, then went on to add those positive actions to each day’s ‘do list’. That worked, so I’m staying with last year’s resolutions (even though the ‘salad for lunch’ and ‘exercise every day’ didn’t really drop my weight.) This year, though, I’ve adopted a motto:
In other words, look for reasons to smile, smirk, giggle, and laugh out loud. No, I won’t be watching reruns of I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, or Petticoat Junction. (Although an occasional Hee Haw is definitely going to happen.) Nope. I’m going to find humor the hard way – by looking at everyday events. If what’s happening around me doesn’t provide smirks, giggles, or belly laughs, at least I can smile at the people around me and do my best to get them to smile back.
Go ahead and grin at my foolishness. It’ll make you feel good.
May all your New Year Resolutions be easy ones and your motto –if you choose to adopt one — lead to fun.
Robert Burns said it well: The best laid plans of mice and men err oft and go astray. (He didn’t actually say it like that, but the Scottish version has so many apostrophes that I prefer this corruption.)
My goal of posting once a month fell off the tracks in October. So did my drive to find an agent for my women’s novel. Discovering the manuscript was too short put a large crimp in my plans. I’ve been expanding scenes and adding new ones. I still have a lot of writing to do before I hit the magic 80,000 + recommended word length. Ah, the scenes to be written. The description to add. The dialogue that will take the place of summary. Fun. Fun. Fun.
Wish me luck!