I spent seven of my growing-up years in the company of a runt Pekin duck called Drusilla. Her nest was in a recycled doghouse, and she liked to cuddle up to the former occupant of said doghouse. What Beauregard the beagle thought of her friendship could be surmised by his air of long-suffering, and when he got bored with her company, he would escape through the duck-proof opening in the tool shed door, to the privacy of his lavish quarters within.
In her domain – the picket-fenced back yard of a bedroom community quarter-acre lot – Drusilla was fearless. Every morning, she boldly raised her voice to join the dawn chorus, uttering a six-syllable clarion cacophony to call the world to attention. Then she’d devote her day to expertly preening the grass of parasites, which she’d recycle into eggs that Beauregard would crack and lap up with gusto, and guano that kept the back lawn lush and green. Every year, after she molted, we had to clip her pinfeathers, to prevent her flying into danger that a runty duck wouldn’t live to regret. But when she was carried beyond the fence, she would squat where she was set down, and refuse to budge. She wouldn’t de-bug the flower borders, nor even venture across the front yard to paddle in the shallow ditch that drained the lawns of the houses on our street.
When our writing carries us through the gate in the fence, do we assume a low profile that protects our work from challenge by gatekeepers toting tablets of storytelling commandments that define acceptable limits to our art?
What if he’d bowed to experts and hacked up another mountain of marble into more manageable chunks?
We’re all funny ducks, here, quacking in the wilderness. But we’re talented artists, too. As long as we devote ourselves to mastering quality language that will keep our writing out of danger of chaos, we can bravely bring forth works for readers who will gladly carry our writing into the gardens of their own minds and hearts.