In Which Penn Advises Her Rider
The engine sputtered as Penn came to a stop beside a dry creek bed. I hopped off her worn seat and crouched down. There, among stones smoothed by flowing waters, was an empty wasp nest. I held it in my palm – so fragile, so delicate, like the unveiled human soul trembling in the wind of uncertainty.
My other hand wrapped around a honey-colored pebble, longing to draw from it a portion of its strength, that something it possessed that enabled it to weather cold winters and tumultuous waters.
“Keep ‘em,” a voice behind me purred. “You’ll need ‘em both.”
Lately, I have been thinking how very raw the act of writing and pursuing publication can be. One of the things that has amazed me most, that I had never thought of before I began writing, is how utterly vulnerable a writer makes herself. To write well, one must pour every ounce of emotion onto the page, swirl it around, turn it into something beautiful, and then wait… quite possibly for criticism and rejection. And when criticism and rejection come, so may tears. And I don’t mean, “Boo-hoo. Woe is me,” tears. I mean these things that spring from the depths and come silently, unbidden, unavoidable, and unspeakable.
But there is this other thing that has amazed me as much as, if not more than the soul-gaping vulnerability, and that is strength. One cannot be a wimp when it comes to writing, but must see beyond the tears to the truth, and then find the strength to make oneself and one’s writing that much better.
When I saw Janet’s beautiful photo this morning, I saw the dual natures of a writer. The vulnerability of the soul on paper, waiting either to be cradled or to be discarded, sits beside the strength of character that resolves not to shy away when the winters come or the waters flow.
Vulnerability and strength.
Keep ’em, friends. If you’re going to write, you’ll need ’em both.
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