Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Theme: Waiting for May Flowers (Sarah Dooley)

It seems simple, and it seems to apply to a lot of things in life, including the path to a published novel: April showers bring May flowers.

So it's easy to look forward to May. In May, the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining and everything is beautiful. Your book sits on a shelf -- or better yet, is absent from the shelf, snatched up by eager teachers and savvy reviewers and, best of all, actual twelve-year-olds. Your characters no longer exist only inside your head. They breathe. They're out in the world. Kids are writing book reports about them.

Sometimes, when you're waiting and working and slogging through the mud, trying to get to the May flowers of publishing, it's important to keep something in mind:

After May is June.

June is when the heat sets in. June can be dry and hot and long and the stinkin' flowers need watered every day. You've got to weed and prune and get ready to harvest. Maybe you have some planting that needs done for next year, too. So you drag your watering can and your gardening shears, trying to keep the delicate buds of creativity intact when all you want to do some days is let them wilt -- while you collapse in the shade with a lemonade, and, for Heaven's sake, somebody else's book.

Then, just when the June heat seems unbearable, fall blows in. With its crisp and cool and new. Teachers asking you to do school visits. Libraries inviting you in to speak. And still you're planting for next year. All year round, you're planting.

The job of writing is never done, and the funny thing about it is that you oftentimes find yourself in several seasons all at once. There is the waiting and the worrying and the hoping, the day-to-day slogging through the mud of self-doubt, of character-doubt, of book-doubt, the April showers -- all mixed up with the brilliance of May flowers, the glimpses of cover art, of your book on a shelf, of a positive review, of the words "checked out" on a library's website. And right along with that is the dry spell, the tired, hard work to promote, to stay excited, even when nothing seems to be happening and you think surely the ground is too dry to grow a thing, and you're wondering where on Earth the next handful of seeds is going to come from --

But they always do.

Keep at it. Plant and plant until you've got a page or two in every season. A dizzying swirl of leaves and petals and raindrops and sunshine. A whirlwind of seasons to savor, each one something special.


  1. Oh Sarah, "you often find yourself in several seasons all at once." SO TRUE! Lovely post.

  2. That was my favorite line, too, Irene! The writing life is full of ups and downs...sometimes the ups and downs actually happen at the same time!