Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Minute Longer

As writers, we sometimes fall prey to that most venemous of frogs (or dragons): it ain't gonna happen. The doubt. The nagging, incessant doubt that tries to slowly convince us of its truth.

When I was a high school senior, many (many!) years ago, I recall that our Superintendent of Schools in Windsor, CT was being "asked to resign."  I don't remember much about why, but there was loads of controversy, and when he gave his last speech to us seniors as we prepared for graduation, I remember a single line of his: the person who accomplishes what they set out to do is often the one who can hold on for one minute longer."

One minute longer.

When it comes to writing and publishing, 'one minute longer' might more accurately be translated, 'one month longer,' or 'one year longer,' or even (yes, even) 'one decade longer.'

When we first open our notebooks with a smile on our faces, saying to our husbands or wives, "I've got this cool idea for a book," the journey we begin is nothing like a walk to the park. Or a walk to the center of town to make a stop at the local library.

It's more like the Appalachian Trail or a jaunt up Mount Everest.

To see our scrawled bubbles go from notebook pages to hardbound or paperback books is nothing short of a miracle--a miracle which sometimes seems and feels as though it will never happen.

Last night, our son Tyler took an unusual nap around one in the afternoon. He slept for an hour as Jennifer and I walked into the city center of York. We felt the inner angst as we confided in one another, Yup, tonight may be a tough night to get the T-Man to sleep. Very tough. May give new meaning to the word 'tough.' Step aside, Stallone. We're gonna have one heck of a ride trying to get our guy to fall asleep. But we'll stick together. It will happen.

So we enjoyed the hour of magnificent conversation--sharing dreams, discussing our latest story ideas and ups and downs, and considering the journey we're on.

Tyler woke happy. His words were literally bubbles that floating out of his mouth into an open sky all day. We saw some famous people get married at York Minster. (Well, we didn't actually see them get married; we watched them exit the church along with the rest of the large crowd. We don't know who they are. or how they;re famous. But the mob seemed to think so.)

When seven o' clock came, and bedtime along with it, Tyler jumped into his Bob the Builder themed bed, and the saga began.

Story time--which usually consists of a five minute story told by me about crane trucks, ice cream, lollipops, and various friends of Tyler's--stretched itself into about twenty minutes.

Song time--which usually consists of a five minute litany of ice cream, lollipop, crane truck, and Christian songs sung by Jennifer--stretched itself into twenty minutes.

Ten more minutes of lollipop stories by me.

Ten more minutes of lollipop songs by Jennifer.

It seemed that sleep would never come. But then another thought dawned on me. Tyler is tired. He needs sleep. He will sleep. Sometime.

And then I remembered: one minute longer.

It's usually just when we're about to give up that things break loose. Really give up, I mean. When our hearts tell us, Nothing, man. I got nothing. And our souls say, Dude, I'm spent. And our bodies and brains echo the refrains--then it's right at that moment that stuff happens.

And in life, stuff always happens when we wait long enough, focus our hearts on what matters rather than what we think matters, and when we keep the faith.

In writing and in publishing, it may seem like it might never happen. But it will. With enough heart, love, authentic passion, and diligence, it will.

Last night, Tyler finally fell asleep amidst a thousand songs of all his favorite things. And maybe, just maybe, that's what it's all about: learning to tell stories and sing songs--holding the faith amidst the wait. No matter how long it takes.