I just finished a re-write for a book I’m working on and I was happy. Then I started reading it yesterday and I got pissed off and stressed out because I hated the fucking thing. I hated it before the re-write and I hated it after which is kind of a huge disappointment because I love the concept but I can’t nail the execution.
So we went for a walk because that’s what I like to do when I’m stressed—escape and talk to Ben.
I told him how much I hated the story and that I felt like I was overloading it with details and trying too hard. I bitched and complained and Ben tried to make me feel better. Then we saw a cluster of people huddled around what looked like a small pile of leaves. It was actually a bat that had fallen from a tree and it was tiny and scared and heartbreaking.
Ben ran back home to consult our wildlife bible and grab our net, gloves and a box just in case we needed to catch the little creature and bring it into the Toronto Wildlife Centre. I stayed behind to watch over it with a bunch of kind people who were all concerned for its little, furry well-being.
The bat was at the base of a tree and it crawled up to the tree and tried to climb it. But the problem was the bark on that particular tree was too smooth, so it systematically felt around for hand holds. It went around the entire base of the tree looking for a way up and when it couldn’t find a way what did it do? It hurled itself across the grass towards an adjacent tree with rough bark. It was a harrowing journey for the poor little bat and everyone was cheering it on. Then, finally, it got to the tree and climbed quickly to the very top, out of reach, and hung upside down to rest. We all sighed with relief and Ben called to tell me what he had learned about bats from our wildlife bible.*
As I walked home I thought about the bat’s problem solving skills. It tried that one, smooth-barked tree for a long time and then moved on when it couldn’t make it work. If that wasn’t a lesson for me I don’t know what is.
Sometimes a story isn’t working, but instead of giving up completely you just need to find another tree. Find a new path. Find a completely different way to look at it. Sometimes you have to let the old way go in order to find the way that actually works for you.
So I’m going to let the lesson of the bat inspire me and crawl away from this old tree as fast as I can. Because I know there’s a different way to get that story out. I know there’s a tree out there for this story, one with rough bark and lots of handholds to help me climb all the way to the top.
* Apparently if you find a bat on the ground and you can get near it, it means you should take it in to see a professional for help. But in this case the bat had managed to get itself to safety so we will just check on it for a few days and if it’s still in the same place we will attempt a rescue or call the TWC to come help us retrieve it. If you find an injured or orphaned animal please consult professionals as not all animals are in need of rescue and in some cases you might just be taking them away from their homes.
Toronto Wildlife Centre Hotline: 416-631-0662