I learned something today…

I finally got into my flower beds.  I’m late and not proud of it.  But because I didn’t have the chance to dig in the dirt earlier, I learned something today.

As I reached down to tug a weed from the soil, I noticed the tiny shoot looked slightly familiar in a very miniature way.  Upon close scrutiny I noted a baby alyssum. 

No, I am not off my rocker.  I was as surprised as you are.  Everything I’ve ever known about this dainty flower screams of impossibility.  According to The Gardener’s Network, “Alyssum are tender annuals and highly susceptible to frost.”

Hello, I live in Minnesota where frost is warm and below freezing winters are long.  Yet I counted not one, but eight babies in two of my beds.  They could quite possibly be the cutest things I’ve ever seen.  The fact that they shouldn’t exist after a super cold and snowy winter makes them even sweeter.  Miraculous even.

Had I tilled my beds and planted on time, they wouldn’t have survived.  Their seeds needed to be warmed by the sun and left undisturbed so the sprouts could take root.  They grew out of my forced patience.

The writing process is a bit like these annuals.  We write, we submit, we edit, we get rejected.  We write, submit, edit and get rejected.  We find ourselves in a pattern of forced patience.  Slowly, we are warmed by the sun and our writing takes root in the fertile soil of our practice.  Our forced patience allows for the possibility of beautiful, miraculous and unexpected blooms.

The odds of getting published are about the same as an annual propagating in impossible conditions.  Yet those tiny baby alyssum filled me with hope. 

They taught me that as long as I continue writing, editing and submitting, I have the ability to succeed.  I will not give up, and I will not quit trying. 

Instead, I learned something today.  We only lose when we let the frost destroy our tender dreams and keep us from reaching our potential.  Miracles are patiently nutured, not grown overnight.

May the sun shine and your alyssum bloom!


17 responses to “I learned something today…

  1. What a great post and analogy Cat! Thanks so much for sharing that with us. I wrote an essay today that I tried to write about 7 years ago. I was unsuccessful then. Today I was successful and the essay was cathartic as well. The sun nurtured my little seeds! LOL!!!

    Cheers to you,


    • Awesome, Ardee-ann. Sometimes forced patience is a good thing. I think it makes us better writers and writers better equipped to succeed in today’s market.

      Thanks so much for sharing your success story.

      Hugs~ cat

  2. I love your positivity Cat. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Great post Cat, and a beautiful analogy! Forced patience, indeed. I’m with you there. The only writers who don’t succeed are those who give up. I’ve found that many flowers sold as annuals can be tenacious given the right circumstances. My mother had alyssum come back up between the cracks in her sidewalk here in Michigan. Amazing how they found their way up through the warm cement but it is on the south side of the house where anything can happen. Gardeners are often rewarded in surprising ways. I’m glad you found your alyssum.

    • Yvonne,

      It’s so neat to see them. I’m beginning to think this little flower will become my writing totem for the year. If it can thrive in less than ideal conditions, I’m convinced it’s worth my affections.

      I had two other annuals come back this year–don’t know the name. I think our extremely heavy snowfall insulated them. Maybe that is equivalent to the deluge of submissions/rejections we must weather as writers?

  4. This is such an inspiring message! Patience is something people (myself included) often forget is a big part of the writing life. Beautiful post, Cat! Have fun in your garden. 🙂

  5. Great post, Cat! You’re so right about forced patience! I was just thinking yesterday – if I had never won the contest, would I be where I was the day before I won – writing, submitting and wondering if I’d ever be published? Would I have given up or persisted? How long can you wait before you think it’s hopeless?

    Our greatest opportunities may be just around the corner if we just don’t give up! Yesterday, someone told me a great quote by Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Very true!!

    • Lori,

      I love that Wayne Gretzky quote. It’s so true. I always tell my DH that if I don’t submit they can’t accept or reject. To get pubbed, we have to take that chance and put ourselves out there.

      I don’t think you would have given up. I think that good writers know publishing is difficult and take it on despite the long and sometimes painful process. We write because we have to. The second we clear away our metaphorical flower beds and till them up is the moment we give up and move on to the next phase of our lives–sans writing. I think getting to this stage is nearly impossible for serious writers.

      Which may be why slush piles continuu to pile…

      : )

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope all is going well with your book!

  6. What a lovely post Cat! Patience is a highly useful quality. I love the thought of your little flowers surviving the frost, and not only surviving but thriving. Wonderful!

  7. And writers, like little baby plants, need tending. ^_^

    • Oh, yes. We definitely need to be pampered at times. Mostly our egos, but also physically during those times we get wrapped up in our writing and forget to eat for days on end. Or is that just me?

  8. Truly beautiful, Cat! Forced patience isn’t easy, is it? 🙂

    I agree – one step at a time, and always forward. We’ll get there!

  9. Cat, your insight will someday save us! I am finally responding after reading for some time. I am in the *false, forced patience* of waiting to fix a manuscript that has been rejected by the agents I chose. During this anxious time…a silver lining has materialized… I am suddenly obsessed with a prequel that I never considered . 🙂 jeanna

    • Jeanna,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. As I write my blog each day, I can only hope my words will inspire someone besides me. : ) If not, it’s the cheapest form of therapy I’ve ever found.

      I’m glad you found your silver lining. Sometimes the wait is painful, but it’s almost always useful. You may find that by writing the prequel, you may be able to fix your initial manuscript a little easier.

      Best luck and I hope to see you around~ cat

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