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Lessons From A Heron

No exceptions for holidays or Sundays. The heron, which I've named Perseverance—Percy for short—shows up every morning and evening beside the creek next to our home. I ponder whether the bird has tucked a timetable under its wing like the one I carried in my coat pocket when I rode the Chicago Metra. Fishing is excellent in the beaver pond for Percy to maintain such a schedule.


My husband and I first see Percy sitting atop the barn swallow house before our morning walk when we throw bits of bread for the birds, cabbage for the fog, and carrots for the rabbit near our front walkway.


Thirty minutes later. We retrieve the morning paper from its clear plastic wrapper lying in our driveway and notice the bread crumbs have vanished, the cabbage has disappeared, and the carrots are missing. But Percy still looms over the marshy area, doing what Percy does best: persevere. I wonder if Percy has tasted breakfast and is waiting for more.


Midday. As I go to the mailbox, I look toward the swallow house and notice Percy is not perched on it. The creek and marshland are still. Rest time for Percy, I imagine.


Dusk. Our evening walk and Percy perseveres, a commanding presence on top of the swallow house. No critter along the creek or beside the beaver dam offers a challenge. Neck elongated, wings stretched, and motionless—Percy has spotted a likely candidate and waits for the right moment. Success is within reach.


LIKE A HERON, authors must leverage the strength of perseverance—persist in their writing despite obstacles and finish what they start.

An article titled "On Revision" in the Spring 2023 issue of The Authors Guild Bulletin caught my attention, likely because I needed a shot of Percy's perseverance.


LIKE A HERON, perseverance is the successful author's secret sauce. One author quoted in the article revised her first book twenty times, another said she revises a manuscript at least one hundred times, and Margaret Atwood was quoted saying, "A piece of writing had to go through at least seven drafts."


LIKE A HERON, rest periods are essential to boost perseverance: think heart and its relaxation between beats. Think Percy resting during the middle of the day. Deborah Gall says she gives her manuscripts "space and time to rest, like resting a piece of meat or fish after it comes off the grill" before revising.


LIKE A HERON, an author's (teacher's, artist's, student's, runner's, fill in the blank) success doesn't come on the first attempt. In fact, the real magic happens when authors give themselves the space to revise their manuscripts—letting the piece rest and then persevere LIKE A HERON with fresh eyes to re-vision and create a spectacular manuscript.



Success is within reach.

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