Learning to fly

- by Kim Watters

Kim Watters here.  As I walked into my office the other day, I noticed a baby bird on the patio. Even though I don’t particularly like birds–a childhood nightmare that would take too long to explain here–this poor thing was kind of cute. I sure hope Mama was around to teach Junior how to fly because the snakes have come out of hybernation and are on the slither.

A few hours later as I’m sitting at my desk, I see Mama bird has decided to show up to take care of Junior. In between processing our daily accounting functions, I see Mama flapping her wings and hopping away. Junior is trying to mimic her. It’s so cute to see the struggle and how many times Junior spread his wings. It reminds me of being a writer.

In the beginning we struggled to learn the craft. Each passing day or moment, we honed it, like Junior was trying to do with his wings. A little hop–a paragraph, a bigger jump–a chapter. Then hopefully flight–or a book. And each time, we had our own cheering section in our family, friends or critique group–or in Junior’s case–Mama bird.

Flash forward to the next day. Junior is still on the ground, having survived the night, but he’s not looking very good. He hasn’t learned to fly yet and Mama bird is gone. Not knowing anything about how to take care of him, it’s time to call in some help.

I believe at every point in our career, we all need some sort of reinforcement, whether its in the form of a class, workshop or editorial/agent input. Occasionally, I take classes to refresh or improve my knowledge. I also have a critique group, two final readers and a wonderful editor to help me along.

Junior has the local Bird Lady. She swoops down (drives up) and takes Junior home in the hopes of saving him. Is she successful? I don’t know. I couldn’t bring myself to call and find out since I’d become attached to poor Junior.

As I sit here at my desk again a few days later, I hear a bird chirp. I’d like to think it’s Junior, but even if it’s not, I know that whichever bird made that sound had his own struggles while he learned to fly. You will, too. The path of a writer isn’t easy.
How do you now if you’ll be successful? First of all, learn to fly–or finish the book. Don’t be afraid to spread your wings and learn new things because the reward is well worth the struggle it took to get there.

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