The other day I was on my way out the door, ready to take my daughter to school. As I walked into the open garage I heard a loud thumping noise. I looked up and there were three birds desperately trying to escape through a closed window.
My daughter and I watched these poor birds as they repeatedly slammed their heads and bodies into the glass. Slam, flap. Flap, slam! They were insistant that these windows were the only access to the beautiful world outside, even though one of my three garage doors was already wide open - an invitation just waiting for them to notice it.
But they were too desperate. These poor birds couldn't see the forest for the trees.
Knowing they would never find their way out without my help, I rushed to press the automatic opener to the garage door nearest the window.
Two birds immediately flew out. They were free! They saw an opening, an opportunity, felt the gust of fresh air and didn't wait - they flew out into their freedom and all that awaited them beyond the confines of my garage walls.
But one bird remained, insistant that the only way out was through the closed window. I knew he needed a little more help than the others. So I slowly approached, careful not to frighten him.
Despite my efforts, the bird trembled. He flew into the window rapidly, more desperate than ever. I stood, calm and sure, and waited for the bird to find peace and calm so he could be helped.
Finally, he rested on the windowsill, heart racing, and stared at me. "It's okay," I whispered, then gently guided him toward the open door. He saw the alternate opportunity I provided him and flew out into the fresh air.
As I drove my daughter to school, I couldn't help but reflect on this.
How many times do we as writers, as people, insist on banging our heads against a closed window? How often are we set in our own ways that we fail to see alternatives? How often do we ignore the open door just waiting for us to seize the opportunities beyond it?
For three years I banged my head against a closed window trying to find an agent for my work. I could see my friends outside that window, laughing, smiling, enjoying their writing life. But here I was, stuck, insisting that the only way to obtain my goals was to get an agent.
It was my husband that finally said, "Honey, you've never followed the path of others, why are you doing it now? Start thinking outside the box."
And so I did.
I started querying publishers.
They started responding. Quickly. With great interest. I was amazed at how I suddenly had control - and choices!
After three years of banging my head against a closed window, I took another path, through an open door and found the perfect publisher for my story.
Now, I no longer have to look at my friends through the window, for I've joined them in the field.