[Wyrd Words Weekly] The gift of patience...

Hello Reader,

Each spring, I survive the long, gray Pacific Northwest winters by counting down the minutes until the cherries blossom. This annual occurrence, usually sometime in that March-April window, is when the drab gray skies of Seattle recede into the background at last, outshone by a riot of pink and white blossoms so prolific that they fall like snowflakes all over town.

The first spring we lived here, nine years ago(!) now, I waited as the buds swelled on the two flowering plums we had in the yard at our new house. Each morning, I’d check them on the way out to the mailbox, hoping for a riot of color. The neighbors’ trees started to put on their show, while our trees remained stubbornly bare.

“Maybe our yard is too shady,” I said to my husband. “Maybe they’re not healthy enough.”

The leaves emerged, which convinced me they’d never bloom. The flowering cherries and plums I’d seen all around our neighborhood, all around greater Seattle, all bloomed before they leafed out, which is part of what made them so spectacular — nothing but flowers and the backdrop of the occasional beautiful blue sky.

By early April that first spring, when rain showers and wind had knocked down most of the gorgeous blossoms, I was ready to get out the chainsaw because my trees still hadn’t bloomed.

Patience is not always my strength, and I’m apt to pull out the metaphorical chainsaw when I get impatient for results in writing and in the garden. When I hit a low point in the writing life, sometimes I feel like slashing and burning everything in sight.

That first spring, I got a little reminder from Mother Nature that I just needed to be patient a little longer. Those flowerless trees I was talking about? They’re flowering plums, and they’re a beautiful double-flowering variety that blooms after the tree leafs out instead of before. So weeks after the other trees are back to looking like plain old trees, the magic starts in our yard. Our trees are gorgeous, they’re just on a slightly different timeline than all the others. Just like some of our writing journeys.

I’m glad I didn’t take a chainsaw to those trees. If I had, I’d have missed out on this spring's particularly lovely show. We've had pink snow drifting down in our front yard for weeks now and although this week's rain knocked the final blossoms down, I'm so thankful to have seen once last amazing show before we say goodbye to the Pacific Northwest.

I needed that reminder about patience, hidden beauty, and grace this week. And maybe you did too. If you’re feeling like your time will never come to bloom, or feeling shabby in the shadow of friends and colleagues who are full of showy blooms while your branches still feel bare, all I can say is be patient. Those blooms are inside you, they’re just not quite ready to emerge. When they do, they’ll be magic. I promise.

An earlier version of this essay first appeared on No Blank Pages in April 2019.

What I'm Reading

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, so I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate a client success story with this week's "What I'm Reading." My client and friend Lily LaMotte released her latest MG graphic novel, Unhappy Camper, in April. Ann Xu is back for the illustrations along with Sunmi.

Many authors struggle with their sophomore novel, especially when the first one has the kind of success Lily's first book, the delightful Measuring Up, achieved. So I loved the way Unhappy Camper deepened the themes of the previous story, adding a contentious sister relationship and a fun camp setting to the mix. The result is as full of personality as this fabulous cover. Get it for the camp-aged kids in your life--I promise they'll love it as much as kids loved Measuring Up, which got a big thumbs up from the young readers in my life, especially my niece Molly, who loves to cook and appreciated the Iron Chef Junior themes. As a younger sibling, you can bet she's going to be getting a copy of Unhappy Camper so she can commiserate with Michelle's misadventures at Taiwanese summer camp.

Congratulations, Lily!

There's still time to register for my free workshop Story Scaffolding Live!, on May 19. Hope to see you there!



PS - I love a good podcast. That's why I'm so excited that my friend and Author Accelerator-certified book coach Stacy Frazier has just launched The Write It Scared Podcast. Stacy’s podcast exposes the truth about why writing a novel is so hard by acknowledging that writers grapple with two stories: the one they want to put on the page and the unhelpful internal story they hold inside that gets in their way. Her mission is to help as many writers as she can find their way to realizing their dreams by connecting them with the voices and messages they need to hear to move forward. So do yourself a favor and download The Write It Scared Podcast today!

Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

Julie Artz works with both award-winning and newer authors across the publishing spectrum from Big Five to small and university presses to indie and hybrid. She is an Author Accelerator-certified Founding Book Coach, a sought-after speaker and writing instructor, and a regular contributor to Jane Friedman and Writers Helping Writers, and a regular instructor for AuthorsPublish, IWWG, ProWritingAid and more. Her work as a Pitch Wars and Teen Pit mentor, a former SCBWI Regional Advisor (WWA), and her memberships in The EFA, the WFWA, AWP, and the Authors Guild keep her industry knowledge sharp. A consummate social and environmental justice minded story geek, Julie lives in an enchanted forest outside of Redmond, Washington, with her husband, two strong-willed teenagers (when they’re not off at university!), and two naughty furry familiars. She’s built a thriving book coaching business based on her values, her editing chops, and her knowledge of story. Check out her weekly newsletter, Wyrd Words Weekly, and subscribe today.

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