By Sheala Dawn Henke
I’m starting to wonder if Dorothy was on to something when she set off on that yellow brick road. I keep going back to that cinematic moment when her whole perception changed. After surviving the tornado, she opens the door of the farmhouse to a new world.
She Finally Saw In Color.
I can't help but feel the connection with the writing journey and an individual’s road to publication. Recently, I spent six solid days off the grid and on the river with my family and friends. Drifting through the canyons, I could see how the layers of time carved this waterway’s story.
The river doesn’t take no for an answer. When it met rock, it cut through. When it met sand, it pushed through. On and on, a serpentine of perseverance. As I reflect back on the mark it left behind on its path, I’ve come to understand, I need to be like the water, and eventually, I’ll get where I want to go.
Sometimes it’s good to get a glimpse behind the curtain because for some reason that high-octane dose of reality works to put the quill back in hand. We need those raw, neck-whipping jolts to wake us from our slumber. We need those in the industry who are honest with us.
Those same individuals who hold us accountable for the choices we make surrounding getting our work out there. They're not in the business to bring us down, but this was never a business of handouts. Take the constructive criticism and use it, re-frame it, throw the scraps of wisdom into that vat of bubbling brew that is you on the page.
Let it simmer and spice up your work to make everything you do taste better. Take what you can from the cold, hard, exquisitely painful, but beautiful truth of a writer’s life.
Look to your fellow writing community and friends who you perceive as having made it across the great divide. Their tools or their target may be different but learn from them, celebrate with them, and reach out. By observing them, you’ll come to realize how critical those early stages of dilapidated wonder are.
The wanderlust many of us have experienced that first time we took the risk to share our work, is priceless. It comes from innocence that we can all still tap into when we need it but imagine the bandwidth if we stretched ourselves beyond and accepted that our growth as both our successes and our failures.
I landed on the shores of my first publishing contract. I'm thrilled beyond measure, and while I operate on a slightly tilted state of disillusion, I’m aware that this isn’t the end of the road. I’m aware that these yellow bricks won’t lay themselves. This business takes guts, often missing glory. It’s always time to take to the helm again. Get back to what matters. Get back to writing!
A Colorado native, Sheala settled in Fort Collins with her family where she attended Colorado State University and has taught in the Poudre School District for over 19 years. Writer, Reader, Muse Launcher.