It’s Mother’s Day as I’m writing this. Mothers, among other things, are nurturers and caregivers – women who give life to their children, shepherd them through childhood, then send them out into the world
Our stories are a little like that. We create them, work and rework their language and content, then send them out into the world, hoping they will have an impact, that readers will find them. But when do we let them go? When is it time?
The Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Poets & Writers had a wonderful article about a writer named Beverly Jensen who wrote stories for sixteen years, working them over and over during that period but never submitting them to any publication. She contracted pancreatic cancer and died at a relatively young age. Her husband, Jay Silverman, got many of them published following her death. They were good stories.
There’s something pure about writing only for yourself. To spend years working at your craft with little or no acknowledgement. And yet, the good mother knows when it’s time, when she has done all she can do and her children have to make their own way in the world.
There have been many artists throughout history who have been unrecognized during their lifetimes. And undoubtedly many more, who were never known outside of a small circle and never celebrated for their genius. How many times have we heard a song from an unknown singer, picked up an old paperback from a stack in a used bookstore, seen a canvas in a rack at an art store and understood intuitively that here was undiscovered talent, here was creativity that should have had a wider audience.
I’m glad Beverly Jensen’s husband loved and believed in her stories enough to do what she herself could no longer do. But it makes me wonder how many stories, how many songs, how many poems are feathered away in obscurity because their mothers didn’t have quite enough confidence or push to set them loose in the world. It’s the first step, even if the journey may be short.
Copyright 2009 by Toby Heaton