My mind was full of turmoil as we set out this morning. Like many others working in the creative arts, I have times when confidence drops and I am my own harshest critic. Why am I doing this? Is it good enough? Who is listening, reading or even vaguely interested? Family are encouraging and wonderfully supportive, but I know their bias – love doesn’t always give the clearest vision, or the most honest opinion, no matter how much it intends to. I do not want to produce mediocrity. Just now I am battling with myself.
I think it was my grandmother who once described someone as standing out ‘like a good deed in a naughty world’. This morning it was this white campion. Its purity was stunning, stopping me in my tracks and somehow emphasising my dilemma. I want my writing to be that good; something to stop a reader in their tracks, to bring an idea, a feeling, vibrantly to life. I work at it each day, choosing my words, building my sentences, polishing and pruning carefully; constantly asking myself – Is this good enough? How can I make it better?
There are plenty of people who can tell you things. Your book should be such and such a length… Why? Is this the only length? I have read children’s books that are longer. Your vocabulary should be simple. But as a child I loved complexity, strange words and new ideas. It should be set in a known, real world… Really? They all seem to say follow this path and success will be yours; we know. Passion is not enough, you must follow the rules.
I paused to allow Hoover time to investigate an interesting smell and was brought face to face with Woody Nightshade. By all conventional ideas of co-ordination these colours together are wrong. Yellow, purple and green are not what many would put together, but here they are beautiful. They are not following any rules and yet they work. These vines will soon be decked with berries, the result of insects being drawn to the flowers despite not following a recognised pattern of conventional attraction as seen by many. I try to take courage from it. Stick with what you feel is right and it will bear fruit.
Hoover scooted ahead of me, flinging herself down in the shade as she waited, panting lightly, for me to catch up. I revelled in the warmth, but I am not coated in curly black fur, so I gave her time. Another lesson for me on this walk – take time and breathe deeply. Standing there I noticed places where others had gone before us, making forays into the wheat, breaking away from the path. Hoover checked them out and I suspect they are deer trails, slipping into the wheat and disappearing, fading into nothing . Although mostly unseen, there is a vast herd of deer grazing these fields, keeping out of sight and wandering freely. Occasionally you see the odd entry point where they have beaten down a new path.
By the edge of the path there is an area of wheat that has been beaten flat. Initially I thought it was something to do with a truck or some other vehicle that slipped from the track and flattened it, but from Hoover’s response I now think it must be connected to deer. Or maybe she is hoping for truely giant rabbits. It is not until we have walked a whole lot further and look back across the fields that we see a whole network of tracks. Those entry points do not disappear into nothing, they make a statement of their own.
So there was another lesson – stand back and see the bigger picture and then you will understand things better.
And there is always that other teacher at my side. As I stood admiring the view, the greater horizon, Hoover found another cool spot from which to laugh up at me.