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Archive for April 5th, 2010

 Spring has finally come to our bit of yard near the edge of the woods. Even after the snowiest winter on record in Maryland, the dogwood trees are loaded with blossoms as if to confirm their symbolism. According to a reprinted version of Kate Greenaway’s 1884 book, “Language of Flowers,” dogwoods stand for durability.

Durability is an excellent attribute to have if you’re a smallish tree in a county that has bitter winters. It’s also an excellent trait to have if you’re a writer. You have to endure repeated rejection of your prose or verse. And even when an editor says, “Yes,” there are often multiple revisions to work on before the publishable version of the writing is ready for print.

At the foot of my favorite dogwood, which is rooted in the beginnings of the woods, are some snowdrops. Their nodding white flowers bloomed weeks ago when there was still snow hunkered down in the shadowy crevices of the forest. I recall the lovely blossoms, even though all that’s visible now are the spear-like leaves of the snowdrops.

It’s no wonder in floriography (the language of flowers) snowdrops symbolize hope. And hope is another characteristic that’s quite useful for a writer. Even when a publisher says,”No,” to one of your projects, you must push on. Writers submit and resubmit their stories to editors always hopeful that as they work on their craft, they will find a “home” for each tale.

On the north side of this dogwood tree there is some moss. It appears to be an ordinary moss to me, though a botanist would surely have a special name in both Latin and common tongue for this fuzzy member of the plant kingdom. According to Kate’s book, moss represents maternal love.

 Sometimes, writers think of their stories and illustrators consider their art work to be their children. How silly that sounds to many, but are these small creations not the result of months of incubation and hours of intense concentration as each detail is perfected? In the end, the birth of a tale or painting is followed by some loving discipline as the unruly bits are eliminated and new meritorious characteristics are added. The final step in the creative process, like motherhood (or fatherhood for that matter), is the sending forth of the child into the world — knowing even as you watch your little one climb onto the school bus or your envelope of poems vanish in the mailbox slot that what happens next is out of your control.

The world of writers and illustrators requires durability, hope, and tough love. But aren’t those also qualities each of us needs as we find our way through the maze of our day-to-day world?

 Learn more about Vonnie’s writing at www.vonniewinslowcrist.com

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