Weaning time

FoalMail byLaithoiStockphoto

"Could the acceptance letter be in my Spam folder instead?"/Photo by Laila of iStockphoto

For much of the horse world in this northern hemisphere, October is weaning month.

Horse breeders separate the mammas and babies who’ve enjoyed an idyllic spring and summer together.

The grief, stress and crying will break your heart. And that’s just among the humans.

The larger horse farms separate the crying babies and fretting moms with acreage between them. Experienced broodmares probably feel a little deja vu, then probably realize they don’t have to be super-vigilant anymore. The foals cry and fret for at least one night, then find distractions, even new friends, in their new world.

Weaning is like those human “rites of passage, like the first day at school. Or the first overnight away from home.

Or sending out that short story manuscript.

I just sent one of my own “babies” back out into the world. Not the novel, but a short story that’s just starting to make the rounds.

The story first went out in early spring to two publications, but returned home around summer after a mixed reception. (As horse auctions veterans might say, “It no-saled.”)

One target publication, a contest, sent me an encouraging comment, yet still found others more fitting for their needs.

That’s the way it goes for writers. I’ve learned to feel like that veteran broodmare with a sense of “deja vu all over again.”

So I thought about where I’d send the story next? While I weighed my options, I dove back into the pages to give it a makeover.

I refined the beginning, but left the ending “as is.” I gave the story a new title.  (Don’t ask. I’m not telling. Yet. Writers are as superstitious as equestrians.) I sent that story through another round with a different set of critiquers. I marked up the pages with a rainbow of highlighters used in Margie Lawson’s EDITS system. I ditched the pen name. (Y’all ever heard of R.M. Lane? Exactly!) And I gave the story a new destination.

Then, I let it sit some more. Weeks went by. Then, those weeks turned into months. (Yes, I can hear my writer friends screeching already, like worried mares calling for their missing foals.)

Letting a story sit is a luxury I won’t always enjoy. I even try to let these blog posts “cool” for over night, at least. Typos and goofs happen. I catch more of them once I’ve let enough time pass that I forget what I wrote. The “bad news” is that letting a story “cool” sufficiently can take a long time.

So, after fiddling with sentence construction more on the second printout, I realized I could go on perfecting it forever. Geez Louise – I had to send it on. Let it go.

The separation was tough. I had to force myself to say Now.

I’m still worrying. Is it really ready? Am I ready for it to be ready? Will readers like it? Will readers other than critiquers ever get to see it?

I know that literary agents and editors “read to reject,” like harried human resource managers with a stack of 300 resumes for one job opening.

My job is to keeping those gatekeepers reading – no matter what. And they’re a tough audience to woo.

Weaning is bittersweet, both an ending and a beginning.

Letting go is hard. Have you had to let go of something or someone (okay, you may find that too private to share here)? Or what was the hardest thing you had to release? Or, if you’re a writer, too, tell us what it’s like to release that story on which you’ve worked so hard.


12 Comments
  • Jennifer Fusco
    October 13, 2011

    Hi Rhonda,
    My baby is 4 1/2, facing kindergarten next year…if this is what it feels like to let go…I’m in trouble. However, I don’t think in my sitution it’ll be the baby crying…it’ll be the mama.

  • Rhonda Lane
    October 13, 2011

    Oh, I bet that’s gonna be a hard one. That first day to kindergarten is a Big Deal. Thanks for chiming in, Jennifer.

  • Katy Lee
    October 13, 2011

    Such a sweet picture, Rhonda. And letting go of our “babies” is so hard. I actually let mine sit for two months and have just picked it up again to get it ready for the Golden Heart. And then that will be it. No more after this. I have to let it go and create another baby.

  • Rhonda Lane
    October 13, 2011

    I hear ya, Katy. We have to let go of some things to let others flourish.

    Yet, if this current submission doesn’t pan out, I have to switch out the italics for underline for my next “target.”

    Oh dear … 🙁

  • Gerri Broussesau
    October 13, 2011

    Hi Rhonda,
    What a cute picture! Let’s see … I have had many “letting go” experiences in my life, from lost love to the first day of school. However, there are two that stand out in my mind. The first was when my son was seven months old and had to have a heart cath done. I had to walk to the doors of the OR and hand my sleeping infant into the hands of a doctor who was masked and in scrubs. That was very difficult. (By the way, all turned out well). The next difficult thing was when that same son married. It’s hard to step back and watch them take flight into a life of their own. To know when to say nothing, and when to sit back and let go. It’s like a momma bird pushing the little birds out of the nest so they will fly. Much like sending your work out, you, as the writer (mom) are never ready to let go of your baby, but unless you do, it can never fly. Good luck and let us know when you hear back.
    Gerri

  • Rhonda Lane
    October 13, 2011

    Aw, geez, Gerri – I can’t imagine handing your sleeping infant to a masked and gowned surgeon. I can’t imagine all that led up to that moment. Thank goodness he’s grown now and living a full life, but – wow – to paraphrase Bette Davis: Life ain’t for sissies.

    Thanks for your good wishes, and thank you ever so much for stopping by to comment.

  • Susie Blackmon
    October 13, 2011

    Sugar. Sugar is the hardest thing [I’ve tried] to let go of!!! Each time I try, it is SO HARD!!

    • Rhonda Lane
      October 13, 2011

      I hear ya, Susie girl. I gave up bread and pasta – well, I cut waaaaay back. But I can’t give up sugar. No way. Ack! Anyway, life is full of fresh starts, right? 😉 Thanks for sharing.

  • TLCosta
    October 13, 2011

    Hey Rhonda,
    Great piece– and awesome job paraphrasing Bette Davis! So true. I hate that I devolve into an email checking, snuggie wearing, bad-haired maniac when something is out in the world. But, then again, if we don’t send it off, then we never grow.

  • Rhonda Lane
    October 13, 2011

    Yup, they gotta go out to grow, too, just as much as we need them to. I hope that made sense. My Snuggie is choking me.
    😉

  • Casey Wyatt
    October 14, 2011

    The picture – soooo cute! And congratulations on taking the plunge and letting the story go. Once you let the first one go, it’s easier next time around. I recently had the surreal experience of watching my oldest son graduate from high school. The same high school I attended. Talk about feeling old, conflicted and happy all at the same time. And I get to do it again in 2013 when my “baby” graduates.

    • Rhonda Lane
      October 14, 2011

      Thank you, Casey. In truth, as they said Back in the Day, this is the story’s second trip out, albeit after a what amounts to a new hairdo and a shopping trip. (Albeit? Where did that come from??) Anyway, watching your children enter and complete their educations at the same school you attended must give you a feeling of warmth, plus a huge tug on the heart. Thanks again for commenting.

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