Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How To Release a Ferruginous Hawk

Cradle the hawk against your body. Hold its feet in your hands, its back against your chest, its wings tucked in by your arms. Walk to a clear place on the prairie where there are no trees to block its way. When the moment is right, throw the hawk into the air. You don't need to use much force, all you need is to make sure the bird clears you and has enough lift to spread its wings and take flight. Watch the hawk fly away, or maybe perch someplace high enough to get its bearings. Then, you do the hardest part. The next step is to leave and trust that the hawk will do all right on its own, without you.

Sunday, when Jenny and I went to the movie theater, she asked me how my submitting process was going. I told her that I was having an easy time submitting poems, but was hesitant about my short stories. I was less afraid they'd get rejected than that they'd be accepted. After all this time, I've grown attached to my stories.

When I volunteered at the Raptor Center, we'd often have a dozen kestrels at a time, all thrown into the flight cage together. I only ever remember a few ferruginous hawks during the six or so years I spent there. It was easy to release the kestrels. You just open the kennel door and let them all fly out. Some needed prompting, but that was easy. Reach in, grab, toss. For a bird that's only the size of a fist, there's not much ceremony. But, to release a ferruginous hawk, that's another thing entirely. They take more to rehabilitate, mostly because they're larger and eat more. They're also rarer in this part of the country. To let one go is more of an event.

I'm reluctant to release my short stories because I'm more invested in them. That's not to say I take my poems less seriously, but the rough draft of a poem is the work of ten minutes. The rough draft of a story is far more labor intensive. Stories eat more. When I've published in the past, I've noticed that having something in print takes it away from me. Seeing it take wing is great, but then I have to leave it on its own. The best, and the hardest, part.

I've got two more submissions to hit my goal for this week, and I'm going to force myself to make those submissions short stories. Time to let them go and turn back to the others that are more in need of my attention.


Whittaker Luckless said...

Whoa.... That would, like, make a novel an emu, or something. Emu novel.

Quippy funniness aside, that's just an all around cool metaphor.

Debbie said...

I certainly understand that fear that once you let it out there, it won't be yours anymore. That it will change and morph into something else.

I'd be lying if I said that thought hadn't crossed my mind with MMG. That when (I said "when" and not "if") it is published, other people will put their own spin on what I'm saying.

But, hey, that's the chance we'll all have to take. And don't you think it's worth it?

Whit, Emu's are flightless. How about a condor? I want my cool metaphor to fly, baby.

Ali said...

Hrm... Condor. I like it.

Walter Jeffries said...

Over on my Sugar Mountain Farm blog on the Dog House building post you asked about what other media I enjoy building with, besides concrete and glass. Granite and wood for physical media. Not sure how unique they are but they're fun.