Sunday, July 9, 2023

Sleep Creep Leap

There’s an old saying about perennial flowers. (These are the plants that come back every year and usually with very little work involved for the gardener.) The saying is: 

The first year they sleep. The second year they creep. The third year they leap. 

I have found this to be true, and not only with my flowers. The book I have been working on, for example. It's a full blown first draft that my beginner writer self would've proudly pronounced finished. But I know better now.

What I know is that I have the seeds of a potential something. The roots. A few clusters of leaves. A small lovely bud here and there. But the story itself is not quite awake. This is a draft I wrote during the pandemic, and most of the time, it was a daily struggle.  

Difficult to sit down and open my file. Difficult to concentrate on a paragraph, never mind on a plot and subplots, characterization and conflict. Reaching the end of it took monumental effort. But I was like the guy in the novel The Plague. I kept writing. 

Do you know that story by Camus? A plague descends on the world. A city is locked down, the fearful inhabitants trapped together inside the walls. Each person reacts to the situation in their own way. The doctor treats the sick. The minister provides comfort. The mayor attempts to navigate the day-to-day practical needs of the people. 

There's a writer character who's the comic relief, popping up in the story every now and then to give an update on the book he's writing. The joke is that he never makes it past the first sentence.

Anyway, that was what I felt like, writing a book during a pandemic. I mean, what was even the point? 

Except that sitting down and writing each day seemed to be the point. And that guy in The Plague loved his one sentence. Every time he gave his update, he was excited about his progress and itching to delve back in.   

I put my draft away for a season. While it snoozed, I worked in my garden. The grubs had killed the grass and I tore up the dead patches and transplanted perennials. Another season of playing with the draft and nourishing the soil with compost. A third season of letting go, allowing what I planted to creep.  

Bear with me as I keep this metaphor going, but

today as I write, I'm sitting on my front porch, computer on my lap, looking out at the flowers in my front yard, spreading, bobbing, blooming. My story wakes up on my screen

and leaps. 

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