Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tulips, Stories, and Hope


Last fall, I planted tulip bulbs. 100 of them. Purple, pink, and white, randomly along the borders of my front porch. And as the cold days of winter have moved across the calendar—slowly, like clouds in the wind, I’ve waited for spring.

And I’ve decided that planting the bulbs was an exercise in hope.

There is hope in planting tulip bulbs, just as there is hope in writing a story. You put in the effort knowing there will be no recompense for a long time.

The hope in a story is that someone will understand it, connect with it, embrace it. Maybe a soul will be enlightened by it, have an emotional response, an epiphany, or even just a few good laughs while reading it. The hope is that someone will admire it and find it beautiful—and share it with the world. The hope is that the hard work will eventually be rewarded.

But manuscripts must first survive a cold winter. A winter of silence, doubt, and discouragement. A period of rejection and waiting.

As long as the bulbs are in the ground, there is still hope.

And tulips are tough. They’ll push right up through the unexpected snowfall in early spring, with frost on their petals. They’ll burst right through the hard clay dirt. They are determined. They only must survive the winter. But winters are short for some, and nearly a lifetime for others. When will the tulips bloom? When will spring be here?

This morning there were one hundred green stem tips peeking out from the earth in my yard. I wonder what colors they will be when they bloom.

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