The arrival of May signals a change in the tempo of growing things. The garden beds warm, seeds germinate, the pond and prairie hum with exuberant life. A new set of goslings in the neighborhood delight with their fuzzy bodies as they follow their tribe across the lawns and into the water. While the young ones practice swimming, their parents, ever vigilant, remain on guard to protest the incursion of dogs off leash, eager to prove their hunting skills, or fend off hawks that swoop overhead to snatch a tender mouthful. Watching from the sidelines, I hold my breath, fearful that mama and papa will be unable to prevent the predators from claiming an offspring. But the elder geese make vigilant warriors. Outmatched in weaponry, outnumbered by the hungrier elements of the food chain, the gander and the dame remain steadfast, their loud honking, hissing, and flapping of wings alerting the world to the danger. This time, they succeed. I put down the binoculars and turn to my own clutch of ‘younglings’…the stories and poems I’ve been crafting the past four months and must now release into the wild.
How much do we defend our own work? How well do we guide each piece through the perilous revisions and enervating critiques? Crafting a work with ‘legs’ has to be more than slap, dash, and submit. A true word warrior practices daily with all the weapons at their disposal. We flex our muscle memory and hone words until each new idea is ready for release. Not all will survive the submission process. Over the past few weeks, I’ve read numerous journal pieces about the difficulties of publishing in the contemporary writing scene. The amount of material churned out and offered, often for free, makes the job of a serious writer so much more challenging. The most recent article suggested that 5% of books make up the bulk of traditional pub house revenue, which means the rest of us…the 95%…are fighting to even be seen/heard/represented, consumed by the reading public, which continues to shrink as well.
It’s easy to become discouraged. It’s even easier to give up. But warriors don’t quit. In the face of insurmountable negativity, we plunge into the fray.
It is the passion for the creative process itself that keeps me fighting. It is the fire inside that carries me from one project to the next, the joy in the writing itself tempered by the reality of surviving the cut, being selected in the ‘draft,’ flushing with pride when that ‘Congratulations” finds its way into the inbox. The rejections outnumber the acceptances. But I pick up my ‘pen,’ plant myself in the chair, and write on.
Tell me, what inspires your warrior spirit?