Friday, October 2, 2015

The Orchid

Let's just be to the point: sometimes I feel like writing, sometimes I don't.  Lately, after being swept away by some truly fantastic novels, I've started to write my own. 

Out of nowhere, I was completely inspired to write my own original story.  I've gotten further with it than any other story before, which means that I might actually have something in the coming years that I'm willing to let out into the world.  

I did this project a few years back, a sort of serial writing experiment involving movie star Phil Brickland, a sassy former spy and geriatric sidekick, and her faithful companion...  Bruinhilde?  An Anatolian shepherd.  It was fun to write about them, but I found out quickly that, lacking inspiration and passion, a story dies out quickly.  For me, writing isn't about forcing something.  It's about noticing a seed that's beginning to sprout and gently nurturing it.  

I've approached a lot of my writing like a typical, hard to kill houseplant.  Watering it when it starts to look droopy, throw it in front of a window, and know that, 7 plants of out 10 (at least in my house) will live.  And I've been doing that wrong, as it pertains to writing.

Writing is more like caring for an orchid.  One cannot take the same approach.  Can't hose it down with water once a month (ish) and throw it in front of a window and hope for the best.  My husband got me a glorious orchid for our 9 year anniversary.  It's quite possibly the most beautiful specimen I've ever seen.  It has close to 20 blooms on it!  But when he brought it in, I was awed and disappointed.  Didn't he remember the 3 other orchids I've systematically assassinated in the last 9 years of our marriage?

Of course, he said.  That's because you've been doing it wrong.  The fact that he was right did not keep my feathers getting all puffed up with indignation.  *I* was the plant expert around here.  The expert that was expertly killing off orchids left and right.  So what was I supposed to do?  Something my mother even mentioned to me many times.

1 ice cube.  Put it on top of the soil.  1x a week.

That's it.

NO.  Surely not that?  Yes.  Surely.  Just that.  1 ice cube once a week.  And only 2 blooms have dropped.  It's healthy and happy in our dining room.  Every day I resist the urge to give it more water, more nourishment, because THAT'S WHAT LIFE NEEDS.

Not for the orchid.  A little here, a little there, and almost 2 months later that plant is still looking as beautiful as the day he gave it to me.

I haven't written substantially for my novel for over a week now.  Instead, I'm letting ideas fester in my head.  Would the protagonist do this or that?  Where will he go?  Who really is the antagonist of this story?  How does the wind feel, the sunrise look, the autumn leaves underfoot smell like?  Who is his family?  Why is he pursuing this adventure?  

How does it all end?

So instead of telling myself "THOU SHALT WRITE 30 PAGES TONIGHT" and then instead avoiding the work by pinning the hell out of potential front doors to our home, I wait.  I think, and I think, and then I think some more.  I pull out my trusty notebook, scrounge up a pen, and water the idea just enough to nourish.