Simon and I have a conversation every morning, sometimes two or three. When I come into the pasture for the morning chores, he comes running to greet me, ears up, mouth open in his joyous bray, his call to life. I wish him a good morning, a good day, and then kiss him on the nose. This seems to be something we both need, we both enjoy. I can't remember having a life where my day did not begin with kissing a donkey on his soft nose. We are always happy to see one another, we always have a lot to say.
We gave up naming our chickens several years ago after a number of them died for various reasons, as chickens will do. Since we stopped naming them, no chicken has died. Haven't quite figured that one out. I am fond of the gray hen, she is industrious and usually the first one out of the roost in the morning. She knows my camera well, and gives it the fish-eye when I get close, as if to dare me to take a picture when she has so many bugs to go out in search of. I always with her a good morning and successful day looking for food, which is what she does for most of the day.
When I teach writing, the first thing I ask my students is this: do not ever speak poorly of your work in my class, it will hear you.
Creativity is an act of trust, a covenant with oneself. It is not about what others think of your work, it is about what you think of your work. Creativity is a leap of faith, a jump off the bridge, a plunge into icy water, and most of all a coming out, an affirmation of identity and self.
If you cannot trust your own work, how can you ask others to like it and trust it? When I take a photo, write something, I never know if other people with like it, get it, approve of it. It is not my concern, really. What matters is that I like it. I send my work out into the world, some of it good, some not so good, some fine, some not very fine. Some of it vanishes without a trace, some is cheered and praised along the way, some returns battered and lonely, never to be heard or seen again.
Some years ago I resolved to trust my work, to trust myself, it is the foundation of creativity. It is not good or bad work, it is my work, I am proud of it, I respect and trust it, I will never speak poorly of it, even as I know some people may and will. That is our contract with the world, those of us who chose a creative path, we do our work, close our eyes, take a breath, take the leap. We trust ourselves and our work.
This is a coming out, it is an act beyond the work itself. It says I am important, I deserve to be heard, my story, my photo, my idea is important to me and I want to share it with the world. It is an affirmation of the self, the building of ego and soul. I am never so arrogant that I think all of my work is good, only that it is my work, it is a part of me, and I will not speak ill of it. It may be listening.
Simon has recovered from most of his wounds and ailments, but his front legs remain twisted, almost certainly painful and sore, despite the great care from our farrier, Ken Norman. He lies down often, much more than Lulu and Fanny, I think to rest his legs. His suffering has never affected his disposition, he is a sweet creature.
My book about Simon, "Saving Simon," will be out in a few weeks – October 7. I will open the book tour at Battenkill Books, my local bookstore. We are giving away a signed "Saving Simon" postcard to everyone who pre-orders or orders a book from Battenkill – we are shooting for 2,000 books sold there. You can call the store at 518 677-2515, or e-mail Connie Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org. They take Paypal and ship anywhere in the world.
In buying a book through Battenkill, you are not only supporting me and Simon, but the idea of the independent bookstore as well, the idea of shopping local and preserving individuality and scale. People who pre-order the Simon book will also have a chance at winning a potholder from Maria, some free Fromm Family Food, the food my dogs eat, and signed photographs and notecards.