Recently, I’ve been dealt a few blows along life’s paths, both personally and professionally. My mother had a stroke a month ago and is still recovering. It’s a struggle. Events like this make us consider what is important in our life, in each day of our life. Professionally, I felt completely knocked off the writing path when a manuscript an editor wanted to buy and highlight will now never see the light of print. That’s all I’ll say about that, except that events like this can make you wonder about the path you’ve chosen.
As I pondered (“weak and weary”) these events along with what to share with you this month, I came across a poem I wrote while high in the Sierra Nevada. After the events of the past two months, it resonated strongly.
Oh, to be a Foxtail Pine,
Content in its Aloneness.
Never to feel devalued or ignored
Never needing to speak with words
Never to require an audience
Yet Knowing, deep within its roots, it has value
Knowing, as branches hold the sky, Silence also has her words
Knowing, it has been called with joy from All Embracing Love, as a Gift,
To be here.
And Being is enough.
As writers and artists we often work in solitary, “in aloneness.” It isn’t uncommon for our efforts to be ignored or devalued. Even the best of us are rejected, over and over again. Some of the strong ones spring back quickly. Others, more fragile, take awhile to lift themselves from the ground.
I wrote that poem in August 2008, when I was honored to be one of seven artists invited to “Artists in the Back Country,” sponsored by California’s Sequoia National Parks Foundation. We trekked 12 miles to our camp, which was at 11,000 feet. The year before, Gary Snyder, the Pulitzer Prize poet, had christened our base camp, "Foxtail Camp" in honor of its amazing foxtail pines. These are rare trees that grow mostly in the southern Sierra Nevada at high altitudes. Some foxtail pine are thousands of years old. They take a long time to get started, though. At 5 to 10 years old a foxtail pine is only about a foot tall. They surrounded our camp, like Guardians. We felt safe with them.
The goal of the “Artists in the Back Country” program is to rekindle the American tradition of enhancing, through the arts, public awareness and appreciation for our national parks and natural world. We were to come down from the mountains and share our experience with others. Although I spoke about my time in the Sierras at a conference and shared with schools my “Artists in the Backyard” program, I never felt that I fully did my duty.
The manuscript I mentioned above was about nature so it’s doubly sad to me that it will never be published, not by a publisher and not by me. It was a darn good manuscript. But in the back of my mind, a small voice whispers, “You can do even better. Sit down and write. Write the stories you promised when you were part of ‘Artists in the Back Country.’ Write the stories that call to you, even if they don’t call to anybody else.”
Watching and loving animals all my life, I’ve noticed that they don’t really understand the word “no.” Instead they’re always wondering what to do next, looking for a solution. Spending summers with my grandparents in Colorado, I waded in many mountain streams. It’s the same with streams. The water approaches a big rock, but it doesn’t say, “Oh, no. Stop!” It keeps moving, looking for a way around, following its intention. It’s no different with children when they play. They are always moving, trying one thing after another. They understand innately that stopping gets them nowhere.
So be content in your aloneness as you create your magic. But then rise up like the stately foxtail pine and show the mountains what you’ve got. You have magic to share.
The fragile one is rising. Rise up with her.
Marsha Diane Arnold is the award-winning author of twelve books that have sold over a million copies. Her most recent book A Welcome Song for Baby portrays a young girl sharing the sounds of the seasons with the baby in her mother's womb. It'a available in the UK and at http://amzn.to/1VVbVOt
Marsha's popular Character-Driven online Course can be found at http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-character-driven-stories. -
Meet the Friday Blogonauts
First Fridays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer , man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
Second Fridays will feature awesome multi-award winning author Marsha Diane Arnold who will be writing about character-driven and/or nature-based books and/or anything she likes :)
Third Fridays will feature independent Aladdin/Simon & Shuster editor Emma Sector who has helped bring many books into the world.
Fourth Fridays will feature the great Christine Taylor-Butler who has published over 70 award-winning fiction and non-fiction and nonfiction books including the acclaimed new middle grade series - The Lost Tribes.
Fifth Fridays will feature the fabulous Carl Angel award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
Join our Tribe
and receive 7 Steps to Creative Happiness, access to free webinars, and lots more!
Your email addresses are always safe and respected with us.
Follow our Blog!