Sunday Stories: I Love Pelicans

I Love Pelicans

I’ve mentioned before how fortunate we are to live on a lake near downtown Orlando thanks to a generous landlord and the reasonable rent he charges.

I enjoy watching the ducks, wood storks, limpkins, herons, egrets, ospreys, anhingas, eagles, and all the other critters that regularly visit. But the one bird I especially love is the pelican. Pelicans usually hang out at the beach but often come inland for freshwater fish.

American White Pelicans winter somewhere in Florida, but I don’t see them here until February or March as they head to nesting grounds in Canada.

Year-round, brown pelicans cruise inches above the lake’s surface, navigate slow, elegant turns, and ride strong currents high in the sky.

But, when it’s time to fish, they are anything but graceful. They circle and dive headfirst into the water from as high as sixty feet. Because of specific adaptations, they don’t kill themselves, but I cringe every time I see them hit the water.

When I write, I often feel like that brown pelican. I start looking at my subject from too high up, and my resulting text is vague and general.

Once I find my target, I hit the page in a most undignified way.

My sentences are long, rambling, and written using the same structure over and over.

I litter my writing with my favorite empty words—was, were, really, that, very, and just, and my first draft is just as cringe-worthy as the pelican’s dive.

That’s why we create second, third, fourth drafts that allow us to soar beyond all our first-draft mistakes. But if we don’t write that ugly first draft, we have nothing to work with, so don’t expect to look and sound graceful in your initial attempts. Be the pelican whose clumsy attempts ultimately pay big rewards.

Remember, the only way to do this wrong is not to do it at all! Until next time, happy writing!

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