Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Empty Nest Syndrome

By Mark W. Danielson

Most people equate the “empty nest syndrome” with their kids leaving home. All of a sudden – or maybe not so suddenly – parents are abandoned, left rocking in their porch chairs, contemplating their navels. At least that’s the festered image. After all, kids would be scarred for life if they saw their parents celebrating their departure. But fear not -- this story is about a dove that shouldn’t have been a mother, so it has nothing to do with people.

Let’s face it; doves are the symbol of peace because they are clueless about everything. When hawks attack, doves are the first to be picked off. When walking your dog down the street, they fly twenty feet ahead and land, repeating the process five or six times. Sure, doves are pretty, but they’re also pretty stupid. Thus, I present to you the empty nest with two eggs.

Now, in her defense, this dove did sit on her eggs for a couple of weeks, but she didn’t pick a great location for her nest. Located just below our bedroom window, the fireplace vent seemed an unlikely place for a nest. Unprotected from the rain and sun, we watched her every day, thankful that it was summer so no one turned on the fireplace. Still, we were hopeful that the birds would hatch. But for some reason, the mother just took off and left her eggs exposed to the elements. She came back once or twice, as if she was having second thoughts, but then she was gone forever. In all fairness, I suppose she realized she messed up and these birds probably wouldn’t survive the morning sun, day after day. From this perspective, her leaving these un-hatched eggs was an act of kindness. Then again, I’m not sure doves think things through.

Sometimes manuscripts can be like un-hatched eggs. The intent was good, but the follow-through wasn’t. If left unattended for long periods of time, the thoughts will die and it will never see the light of day. Likewise, there may be times when it’s best to hit “DELETE ALL”. Then again, if rescued early enough, you may be able to restore life to your manuscript.

The good news is authors are generally smarter than doves. You don’t believe me? Then show me one manuscript that’s ever been published by one – and don’t tell me it’s Lonesome Dove!

One surefire way to evaluate your work is to tuck it away for at least six months, and then give it a fresh look. Now when you read it, you’ll be in a better position to decide whether it’s worth more of your time. Oh, by the way, it never hurts to take a break and look out the window. You might just spot a nest egg.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This is so funny. I'd never thought about doves and why they're good symbols for peace. Ignorance is bliss, I guess!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Chester Campbell said...

Good analogy, Mark, but in the current economic climate too many empty nests are getting reinhabited. None of my four ever found the need to return, but my older son now has his older son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter back home.

Sticking with the writing theme, I have several unhatched manuscripts that never made it through the publishing process. I get one out occasionally and revise a bit, with the intention of trying again. But with current writing projects, promotional efforts, and networking endeavors, it's hard to squeeze in time to get them out of the shell.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Chester, Bill Cosby always said a parents goal is to love and nurture their children, provide them with an education, watch them leave the nest, and welcome them back -- to visit. Changes in the economy and attitudes have forced many unexpected reunions.

As for manuscripts, I also have several gathering cobwebs, but like building airplanes, I've found it's often easier to start from scratch rather than rebuild.

Ben Small said...

Hey, we've got doves a plenty. Maybe I should mine them a bit. Really enjoyed that piece, Mark. Gave me some things to think about.