A metaphor explains that my #NaNoWriMo and #Write1Sub1 shortcomings won’t always be so short.

28 Nov

I look up to master storytellers who can plan their stories the way a master gardener can espalier a pear tree, knowing where each bud will bloom, at what angle each leaf will grasp its own light, and how the fruit will taste.

I’m a gazillion ploughed rows from being that good.

I put a seed in my earth and the full sunshine of my hope. When I put up a pole or a cage or a fence to guide the story’s growth, it is a drastic act of imagination.

I rejoice in the miracle of the first shoots, and feel lucky when the vines climb. My job is to attach the young story to its bare outline, to the few rules I reliably remember to use.

Over the growing season, that frame weathers and shows its weakness. Inevitably, I must buttress the structure against collapse.

All the while, I learn new rules, new ideas, from others who grow their stories. But there are better and worse times to put them into regular garden use. I shouldn’t overshadow my story with a massive structure it’s not ready for—it’s not strong enough for—it can’t reach. Too big of a change will cripple or kill the adolescent plant.

Instead, I must wait for—and allow—a period of quiescence before the next growth begins, even if that means putting away the shiny new thing to wait for the next growing season.  

In that precious in-between time, it’s okay that my writing diverges from my daily fiction. It ploughs inward instead, stirring up my symbiotes and mixing in more fertilizer. I retire to the shed of unused notebooks and decadent pens, abandoned during the growing season of efficient word-processor use. The lessons of the past season become the ambitious frame my next seeds can reach toward.


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