I have always loved poetry so I guess it was only natural when my girls were born for me to write a lullaby for them. Every night I joyfully sang them to sleep with my special little song, A Land Not So Very Far Away. They were my babies and they didn't care if I sang it out of tune. And who was to say it was out of tune since I made that up too? My husband decided that my singing was at least a little better than their crying, so he wisely held his tongue about by vocal disabilities.
By the time my babies had grown into rambunctious young girls, they had learned their secret lullaby by heart. This was when they decided they needed pictures to go along with the words, so I brought my lullaby to life with colorful chalk pastels. I had so much fun sharing this gift with my girls. It was our lovely little secret.
All too soon my lively little girls transformed into charming young ladies and were off on their own adventures. I tucked my sweet little lullaby away along with all of their other childhood memorabilia as I wiped a tear from my eye. “A Land Not So Very Far Away” was now sleeping soundly in my memory box. It slept through many years of family trials and changes, patiently awaiting the arrival of a new baby.
The time finally came. Our first granddaughter was born. The first night I got to spend with her, I gave her my gift in my not so gifted voice. She smiled and cooed, just like her mama had done when she was a baby. Even though my manuscript was still suck in the memory box, it was being passed down to another generation. It was happy and so was I.
The time finally came for me to pick one of my picture book stories for the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Writing Contest. I had the perfect story picked out. It was a story I had written for an online writing group. The prompt was to write a Dr. Suess styled story using no more than 50 words. My story “Where Oh Where Is That Darn Cat” would be a perfect piece for the contest. Then I got devastating news. The contest rules would no allow any stories published on an online site to be entered.
I begrudgingly put my kitty story away and frantically searched for a replacement. It was then that my granddaughter’s mama came to the rescue. She suggested that I enter, A Land Not So Very Far Away.
“Really,” I said, “don’t you think it is too old fashioned?”
“I think it would be perfect. It won’t hurt to try it,” she countered.
Why not, I thought. It was just sitting in the box collecting cobwebs. But was I ready to share my precious lullaby with the public? I pulled it out of the box and revisited those wonderful memories. Yes, I decided, I had to share it. Who knew how many other precious memories it could make for mothers and their babies.
I entered it into the contest, with hope that at least I would get some good advice from a professional about whether it was publishable or needed more work.
Then it happened. I was sitting at my writers group’s table. My beautiful daughters were seated on either side of me. We were enjoying the lively conversation at the table and waiting in anticipation to hear a name from our table announced as a winner. I was stunned when my precious little lullaby’s name was called out accompanied by mine for 2nd Honorable Mention for Picture Book. My lullaby had literally come out of the closet, or in its case out of the box.
Floating on one of my lullaby’s happy faced clouds, I found my way to the presenter and accepted my award. Both of my wonderful daughters greeted my return to the table with enthusiastic hugs. I also received priceless constructive criticism for my lullaby picture book. Now “A Land Not So Very Far Away” is in the process of become a lot closer to getting into the hands of mothers and babies everywhere.
Lesson learned. There is no expiration date on your writing. So dig in those drawers, boxes and family chests, dust off those cobwebs from your old manuscripts, and get them out there for everyone to enjoy.
Happy Writing Everyone
Cathy Lea Collar
|A Land Not So Very Far Away|
|Me & My Award|