Running Hurdles

Six years of attending my son’s track meets made me thankful that he’d chosen to keep his feet on the ground, for sprints and relays, rather than running hurdles. Watching his fellow teammates tackle barrier after barrier kept a prayer on my lips that, win or lose, they would not stumble and that, if they did, they could still finish the race.

At the same time I was praying for those young runners, I was running hurdles of my own, in the writing field. My urge to write had been fueled years before, by the encouragement of two English teachers.

My goal throughout high school had been to become a journalist. But my father’s sudden and unexpected death, six months before graduation, destroyed my incentive for any further education. As a result, I had come to my first hurdle—the underlying thought that, without a degree of some kind, I could never write anything worthwhile; that, even if I did, it might be recognized by my own little world of family and friends, but never by the reading world beyond them.

When family and friends encouraged me to seek a publisher for my work, I gingerly climbed over that first hurdle and stumbled on, along the track that led to the next hurdle. It came in the form of a possible-but-not-probable challenge. One writer “in the know” stated that stay-at-home housewives and moms (both titles worn proudly by me) could possibly, but not probably, become successful writers. Sheer determination helped me knock down and trample that barrier with both feet. I would keep writing what I was capable of writing and tackle “success” later.

Then came the blunt realization that most editors/publishers weren’t looking for, or even reading, poetry—especially traditional rhymed and metered verse, which was my passion, and which had already flowed into my children’s stories. The only glimpse of hope came in yet another writer’s suggestion: “If you can do it well, try it.” I did, and it worked, to a degree. My traditional poetry was now getting published and winning awards, but my stories were still sitting on the sidelines. And there they stayed, until I came to my next hurdle.

This time, I read that, for various reasons, children’s stories could be harder to write and get published than any other writing. By now, I knew that both facts were absolutely true. But I was on a roll, and since I had gotten around the other hurdles, I could surely get around this one.  I just needed to find an editor who was willing to read my rhyming stories and, hopefully, find them worth publishing. That hurdle was cleared successfully when, over the next few years, the editor of the Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc. (Children’s Better Health Institute) purchased and published over eighty of my rhyming stories and poems. At the same time, another editor began accepting, and is still publishing, my inspirational children’s stories.

Several years ago, a handwriting analyst pegged me as being determined in what I wish to accomplish. Had I balked at any one of the hurdles along my writing track, I might still be wishing I could write something worthy of publication. As it is, I can peer through the glass doors of my personal library and say, “Hey! Each of those publications holds one or more of my writings!”

Of course, where there is a desire to learn, and another goal sitting on the sidelines, there will always be another hurdle to clear.

P.S. Since this reflective essay was published in Pieces of Her Mind, in 2012, I have two books of my own: Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, published in 2014, and the soon-to-be-launched Light for the Burning Soul: Sparks, Flames, and Embers. So I’m still running hurdles; they’re just getting to be more fun.

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