Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Art of Waiting: What to do while a publisher holds your fate in his/her hands

     Three or four months is a long time to wait. From all reports, this is a standard when submitting an unsolicited book proposal. Many of us have had a lot of practice waiting this year: waiting for winter to move on, waiting for ice to melt, waiting for the first signs of spring. I have been filling the days since I mailed proposal #2 with a lot of work. It's been 16 days. No word, even of the publisher receiving it. But I am not just sitting around waiting.
Looking For Spring

     One of many things I am working on now is a Lenten series of drawings and mini-essays.  If you are interested you can find it on my website at This is really quite a project, as it requires me to identify a topic, research it, write an essay, and draw an illustration on every one of the 40 days of the Lenten season.
      Some days, the inspiration comes immediately, it's easy to find information and reference photos on-line and the drawing flows smoothly off the tip of my pen. Other days, it is a real struggle to identify an appropriate topic. I've read more of the Gospel of Matthew this week than ever before. I guess I will dip into Mark,
Luke and John's versions of Christ's life to see if I find more inspiration next week.
Faith Like a Mustard Seed
   So far, for the first 10 days, I have been successful at finding and researching topics. One day I chose the "art" part to be the art of cooking, and took a photo of the Malta Lenten cookies that I baked. The recipe is shared on my website, and I highly recommend it to my readers. The cookies are delicious, if quite a bit of work.

   This entire project is, actually, a lot of work, but I think it is a valuable exercise. One of the topics I almost chose, and still may, are the related terms "disciple" and "discipline". The Lenten series requires substantial discipline. To get it all done every day, and posted both on my FaceBook© page and my web page, takes a lot of time. Still, I am learning much about my faith, the world and natural history. I am also polishing my illustration skills. Each day, I remember a new technique or find a new way of blending colors or producing shading.

     So I am growing as a disciple (a follower of Jesus), as well as growing in discipline. Both words have roots in the word which means "student," so I am studying every day of my journey.

Count the Crystals of Salt
 To give you an idea of how the essays and illustrations work together, here is the picture and the essay for day 4.

DAY 4 - MARCH 7th  -  When you Google “Lenten Symbols”, one of the more intriguing items that you will find is the lowly pretzel. What could this possibly have to do with the lead-up to the most holy of Christian holy days?
There is one claim that in 610 A.D. an Italian monk created pretzels as a reward for children who had learned their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough “pretiola” (little rewards). They were an appropriate treat, as they were made solely of flour water and salt, thus not including any of the forbidden ingredients of Lent: milk, eggs, butter or lard.
      There is documentation that pretzel shaped pastries have been used as the emblems of baker guilds in Southern Germany since 1111. The little treats, known in Germany as “bretzels,” were described as showing the shape of a child’s arms, folded across the chest in prayer. The three holes, created by the twisted dough, are said to represent the Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This treat may also be the origin of the term, ”tying the knot.”
      A prayer book used by Catherine of Cleves in 1440, included an illuminated picture of St. Bartholomew surrounded by pretzels. By that time, pretzels were considered a sign of good luck and spiritual wholeness, probably because of their relation to the Trinity.
      Originally all pretzels were what we now call soft pretzels. According to several sources, the dry pretzels we now purchase by the bag, were a result of a baker in the Pennsylvania town of Letitz, who left his pretzels in the oven too long. The upside of this dried product was that they lasted longer and so could be sold further afield.

     Waiting: for spring, for ideas for topics, for the yard to dry so I can start gardening, for my laundry out on the line to dry, for days warm enough to really enjoy walking, to hear about my book. It will all happen. The laundry may be dry already. Five days til spring on the calendar. Thirty more days of Lent. And how many days til the rest? I'll just keep working, and learning and trying to grow, like the snowdrops in the garden, that waited under ground all winter, and then under the snow, but are now bringing great joy. Spring is just around the corner. Is a book deal? Hope springs eternal.

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