I've been thinking a lot about resilience lately. My Oxford Dictionary defines the word "resilient" as the ability to recoil or spring back into shape after bending (substance) or the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions (person or animal). I think both definitions apply to us as writers and illustrators. We need the ability to bend to a certain degree and then spring back to our own convictions. And we certainly need to withstand countless rejections and shattered hopes, only to get back on the horse and continue with our work.
So what makes a person resilient? Are we born that way, or do we develop resilience through the heartbreaks and tragedies we face in life? Of course, some people appear stronger than others. I remember telling my best college friend, "You are a rock." But I also think resilience is a muscle. It must be developed to see us through hard times. I've had a quote on my studio wall for years. It says: "Real life is the collision--day in, day out--of the improbable with the impossible. Just as dough rises in a bowl, we become larger than we ever thought possible when we rise to occasions, performing miracles with good humor and grace." (Author unknown).
The women I've been writing about are resilient. Harriet Powers created astounding fabric art while faced with devastating poverty and discrimination. Mary Cassatt became a world renowned Impressionist painter in Paris, at a time women were told to stay home and behave themselves. Perhaps that is why I chose them for my picture book biographies (to be released in 2015). Perhaps by following their amazing footsteps, I can strive to become more resilient myself.
So today, let us rise to the occasion. Let us face the road ahead with a knowing smile. Let us astound ourselves with our own resilience. Let us get back on the horse with courage and determination.