I’m sorry, Faithful Readers, for abandoning you so long. I can tell you that I had a painful foot surgery, but that did not affect my writing hand. I can relate to you how my 80-something parents moved to Dallas from Benton, AR and what THAT was like, but my hands weren’t bound, just busy. I could have found the time. For sure, there was a bit of emotional blowback from those two events. Still, my hands were free to blog if I took a mind to do so.
However, as we all know, it takes more than hands to write. It takes heart. For a moment there, which I let turn into months, I lost heart. My confidence sank deep below the surface like fish in winter. In other words, my self-assuredness was hard to find, much less catch and net. Then, just as I was crying, wringing my writing hands, and asking that age-old question: Why, why, why do I keep on doing this…this insane writing thing? WHY?!! The Universe responded.
I was published in a lovely online journal called “Rise Forms” which is written by well-spoken, highly educated fishermen. They have both a poetry section and an essay section, and the editor decided my poem belonged in the essay section, which serves to tell me something about my writing; how it really is somewhere between a short story, poem, and essay. As far as I was concerned, he could put it anywhere he wanted. I was delighted to feel a nibbling at my heart.
Next, I received a wonderful rejection letter from “Creative Nonfiction” magazine, edited by the godfather of creative nonfiction himself, Lee Gutkind. The letter essentially said that they loved my essay “Matinee” but in trying to achieve balance in their “Southern Sin” edition they unfortunately couldn’t use it. It did however, make the top 25 out of 600 essays and they would like to hold onto it for a book proposal they were considering. Now, that is a good rejection!
And finally, I ran into a woman I hadn’t seen in some time at the hairdresser’s and out of the blue she said, “You are my favorite poet. I just love your book.” A little praise goes a long way with a writer. I am so grateful to her because it was with those words, I began again. All of this happened in the span of one week. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I begin again. Now there’s a phrase you’ve heard all your life. Start over. Try it again. Get back up on that horse and ride. Begin again. Simple as that. Yet, you have to lay claim to it to understand that it takes courage, some kind of crazy bravery to start over, to keep going, to try harder. Speaking of bravery, here’s a little phrase I picked up from the movie “We Bought a Zoo,” which I watched out of the need for a little comic relief. I found more in it than I ever thought I would. “It only takes 20 seconds of courage; foolish, embarrassing, crazy bravery…twenty seconds and it can change your life in the most fantastic ways.” That is all it takes because once you’ve signed on for those 20 seconds, you are committed to follow-through. A wonderful, simple philosophy I will never forget.
As for the persistent and annoying question of why, why, why am I doing this? Well, the zoo movie had an answer for that one, too.
—Mendy Knott is a writer, poet and author of the poetry collection A Little Lazarus (Half Acre Press, 2010). To order your copy of A Little Lazarus directly from the author, please click here. Or, if cookbooks are more your style, get a copy of Mendy’s family cookbook Across the Arklatex at www.twopoets.us.