And all of nature is celebrating. Our purple finch mating pair are back and already renovating their nest from last year. The tiny crocuses have pushed up through the past season’s decaying foliage, and are displaying their bold colors beneath my window, with the daffodils preparing for an encore. The snow has completely melted, the grass rapidly turning green. The first bud tips are emerging on bare twigs. And the geese are returning in droves.
Winters in Iowa are pretty brutal, especially the cold. Coming from temperate Cape Town, it has taken me a long time to adjust. That is why spring has become a time to exhale, to release the oppression of dark days and bitter, shivery mornings when the car takes forever to heat up. All the encouraging signs of life are a renewal, not only for the birds and the plants, but also for me.
A similar sort of awakening has occurred in my writing. For nearly a year, I have been exploring all the facets of writing, editing, querying, and publishing. I have attended workshops (virtually), done my first live pitches to agents, taken part in my first Twitter pitch event, sent off my first submissions, received my first rejections. I have joined writing organizations to hone my craft, tackled the challenges of tweeting (not so easy when you are an introvert), and made new friends who share my journey.
Each of these aspects of my growth has been a steep learning curve, feeling overwhelming at the time. When you get a little older — ahem — new things are more daunting. But our family motto (shamelessly stolen from Galaxy Quest) has always been “Never give up. Never surrender.” So I have pushed on, rolling that boulder steadily up each hill.
And now, the equivalent of spring has come for me as a writer. I look back at those many months of learning and struggling and growing, and I finally hear birdsong; I see new life. These experiences have given me the courage to reach out toward new challenges with less fear. Next on my list will be entering my manuscript into writing contests, submitting shorter pieces to literary journals, and, at last, starting the formal querying process to get an agent.
I feel stronger, braver. And for the first time, I feel I have what it takes.
To you who might be further along on your adventure: I imagine you are looking back at where I am now and smiling knowingly. Ah yes, you think, I remember. It was hard, but it was worth it. And to those just setting out, I will say this: Be bold. Reach for the stars. Do all the hard work. Don’t cut corners. All those steps are necessary. You will be glad you persevered.