That the door unexpectantly opened for me to pass through and then was slammed shut has left me contemplating experience and effort. “Experience,” as in my belief that I have been blessed with a wonderful life of family and abiding love. “Effort,” as in, is the determination I spend on dreaming and achieving writing success, worth the bits and pieces and huge chunks of the time it will take to get there? And if my answer is no, what do I do instead.
It’s like something I remember reading years ago in (I think) Chesapeake by Michener. An epic for sure.
The one thing that has glued itself to mind from that book is about trees. It’s about the men as visionaries and dreamers, who put forth the grand effort to plant trees which they knew they’d never live long enough to see as full grown. They would never get to sit in the shade under the lush canopies, never get to shelter under them in a storm, and never get to see how spectacular they’d look while lining the broad roads leading to the mansions by the sea. If I remember correctly I believe the full grown trees were eventually taken down by a fierce storm. But that doesn’t matter because it is the planting of them that was so important.
For a few days after my own personal hurricane I stared at the full manuscript of my WIP, printed and ready to send to an editor who likes to work with paper pages, not on screens. I had already bought the envelope in which to send it, already addressed it and then thought about how futile the continued effort to find a traditional publisher for that book is. Or should I say, might be. It’s the fourth book I have finished, the others are shelf novels. Should I set it aside? And then what do I do, take up knitting or shuffle board?
I mailed it.
Though I am aware that I may never see its branches lush with leaves, (but then again I might), I know that I have at least continued forward, one foot in front of the other, a day at a time. Even though I don’t know how many days, or if any, will stack up behind me, writing that book has brought me immeasurable joy. I am not ready to give up on joy just yet.
I’m still in the stages of making sense of what happened and vacillating between I may live to a hundred or drop dead a minute from now. None of us, and let me repeat, NONE OF US has a sell-by date. Trees don't either.
I’ve been given a second chance and I’m taking advantage of it.