Sep 30 2010

Railroad Ravens

Melissa Crytzer Fry

During mid-June, I had the privilege of watching four baby Chihuahua ravens fledge from a nest that balanced a foot beneath active rails set atop a 20-foot train trestle.

In June, four baby ravens took first flight from the train trestle that borders our property. One is pictured above, shortly after learning to fly. Click to enlarge.

It was a treat to watch the baby ravens test their new, unsteady wings and to see their progress as the weeks passed. During my morning exercise, I’d see them with beaks bent at obtuse angles, squawking at mom and dad for food.

All very endearing … until I saw the parents fly by with breakfast in their talons. One, a rat. The other, tiny floppy legs and a white cotton-puff tail. A baby bunny.

At times like these, I have to remind myself, “This is the circle of life. For one to survive in the wild, another must die.” But, admittedly, it doesn’t make it any easier.

For Writers: Sometimes we see things that are difficult to understand and just as often, hard to witness. These ‘difficult’ events offer valuable life lessons, despite their unpleasantness. Novels should be no different, offering insight and understanding about those tough topics.

As author Valerie Laken (Dream House) says in The Writer Magazine, “It is a writer’s job to write what is difficult to write, to say the things others are afraid to say. We should take on projects that frighten others.”

Author Teri Coyne (The Last Bridge) agrees. “One of the most frustrating aspects of writing is the way many agents (and editors) are not open to books that deal with difficult subject matter,” she says. “While I am lucky to have an agent that appreciated my story, the process of trying to sell the book was filled with rejections and comments like, ‘I don’t represent books about abuse.’”

Coyne, who feels there is a need for REAL stories about women’s lives, suggests that we, as writers, embrace the rejection and move on. “It’s painful, but in the end you really don’t want anyone to be involved with your story who does not get it or love it. There is too much at stake for you as the writer, both professionally and emotionally.”

Compelling voice and strong story, she says, help make the “difficult” subject matter go down a bit easier. And, given that my novel topics fall into the ‘difficult’ category, I’m encouraged by Coyne’s suggestions. I have some tough stories to tell. Stories that must be told. So, despite the ‘difficult’ label, I’m going to tell them.


6 Responses to “Railroad Ravens”

  • avatar Jessica McCann Says:

    Bravo, Melissa. Excellent post, and excellent point. I completely agree with Coyne’s quote about moving on. “…in the end you really don’t want anyone to be involved with your story who does not get it or love it.” I couldn’t agree more.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Thanks, Jessica! I do believe you gave me the same advice, along the lines of “To be a successful and memorable writer, you can’t just take the safe route and write what is easy to sell. You have to take chances.” So thank YOU for the advice as well, and for the continued support.

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  • avatar Jamie Says:

    Yes — a lovely post and a great reminder to tell the stories that are in our hearts, regardless of the subject matter. I was thinking just this morning about the paradox of writing for an audience or writing for yourself. I’ve found that when I focusing on writing for an audience, my writing comes out flat. It’s only when I dredge the depths of my heart without worrying about the “intended audience” that I unearth gold — whether it’s joyous, difficult, or frightening (sometimes it’s all three!).

    btw…I absolutely love the picture of the baby raven on the train trestle. Great color contrast.

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  • avatar Rachna Chhabria Says:

    Hi Melissa, thanks for this wonderful post.

    “you really don’t want anyone to be involved with your story who does not get it or love it. There is too much at stake for you as the writer, both professionally and emotionally.”

    This is something we writers should adhere to. If someone (an agent or editor) does not feel the same passion we feel for our work, then it doesn’t augur well for us (writers). They probably won’t be able to do justice to it while editing or selling or marketing.

    The photographs as usual are lovely.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Thank you, Rachna. Yes, passion is the overall key to our writing! Our passion drives the story, and hopefully influences the agent!

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  • avatar Julia Munroe Martin Says:

    oh my goodness, adorable! so glad you posted this link for me! (p.s. glad to “know” you now!)

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