Have you ever wanted to give up?

I mean surrender, with white flag waving, after trying your best and getting nowhere? Smashing into that brick wall and discovering it hasn’t shifted a single inch? Plotting and planning a course forward and ending up farther behind?

I have.

After 3 months of revising a manuscript, I was certain I’d succeeded this time and submitted it. I opened the email response just as Maggie walked into my office. She read it over my shoulder and said, “Mom, that’s brutal.” I was too devastated to speak.

I rose from my desk and stared out the window. Our yard was covered in snow so deep that our raised garden in the front yard had all but vanished. I felt like it did–frozen. So I distracted myself by calling Candy, a neighbor who keeps an eye on Percy, the lone peacock who wandered into our village 5 years ago.

Our blue mystery.

He settled on a quiet lane bordered by forest and kind folks who provide food and water. But winter is tough for a creature without fur or the instinct to burrow. With 4 feet of tail feathers, curling up is impossible. He sleeps high up in a tree, the safest place from roaming predators. He clings through snowstorms, sleet, and rain, his long neck tucked into his body, making him look like a big blue marble.

Everyone worries that he’ll freeze to death. But he doesn’t. Percy is a survival miracle.

Candy reported his approach to this winter’s unusual, pounding winds. When he flies to his favorite branch, he pivots until he finds the position that makes him aerodynamically sound. The wind travels down, not against, his feathers. “He’s a smart bird,” she said.

She did, however, tell me about the Polar Vortex of 2019 when Percy took a gamble. With a temperature of -13 degrees and -43 degree windchill, he decided against sleeping in the tree. Perching up there in the open, he knew the odds were against him. So he slept on the ground, braced against a familiar house with a floor plan that blocked the north and west wind. “He must have known that the bad guys wouldn’t be out and about in weather like that,” Candy offered. For 3 nights, he took the risky pivot of his life and survived.

For weeks now, I’ve been in a quandary, as my mother would say, about that manuscript until today. I followed our dog Maria to the east side of the house. Tiny snowdrops had emerged from the last traces of snow. Instinctively they held tight in the ground–frozen.

Until they knew when to pivot.

And that was my answer all along.

To borrow from Thomas Edison, my manuscript had not failed. I had found the way it didn’t work. There’s only one thing I can do.


11 thoughts on “Pivot

  1. We have seen the snowdrops, too. It is a sign to come out of our hiding places and view our expanded horizons! Thanks for your inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank goodness Janet shared this blog… for some strange reason, I did not receive the email that you had posted (must fix that!).
    You are definitely an inspiration, Karen. Keep on keeping on. Keep sending it out. One rejection does not mean a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Technology is a great thing when it works, but when it doesn’t…So I’m happy to have Janet beside me for another reason clearly. A rejection takes me one step closer to “yes,” although it can be tough to believe that. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my posts. Your encouragement is appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, I checked my settings and I can’t see why I didn’t get the notification. Damn WP gremlins. Janet is a wonderful person to have by your side.
        I have another friend who is going through one rejection letter after another. There are days when it really gets to her. Having read her book, I can’t help but think her turn will come. I’m all about wishing success to my fellow woman!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this – great lesson. I hope you are continuing to pursue getting the manuscript published. I have to admit it upsets me that anything a editor or publisher could say would be thought of as brutal. And that you were devastated. And an editor of children’s books…?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If nothing else on this writing journey, I have learned that peristenece is the only way to succeed. I stay upset for a while, and then I push on. (It was an agent, not an editor, who shot holes through my work). I understand what he wants me to do, but it is not easy to reach that point. Taped to my computer is a Thoreau quotation: Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.


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