Friday, April 29, 2011

Pulling the Weeds

Not too long ago, I blogged about how a shiny new idea is like a seed. This is kind of a corollary to that idea.

My family bought a house last October. The ground was hard and all the plants were mostly dead. We had no idea what we were going to get when the spring weather hit. We waited with anticipation to see what plants were going to come up in our flower garden. The snows died away. They ground started to get soft. The world started to turn green and plants sprang up all over the place.

Every night, we walked around the yard, looking for new signs of life. Beautiful things started happening. We discovered a clump of tulip bulbs. Then another. And another. Literally hundreds of tulips broke through the ground. Irises started to wake up. Grape Hyacinths and other Hyacinths started to peak out. Bushes and trees started to blossom. Rhubarb and Daffodils and Scilla and others we couldn't even name popped out of the ground.

Along with all these unexpected beauties, other plants came up, too. Weeds. Prickly plants. Grassy foxtail things. A type of mustard that just takes over everything. They came up right in the middle of all the flowers. The problem was that we couldn't know for sure what was plant and what was weed. We had to wait until the plants and weeds both grew into something recognizable. It wasn't until we could tell that the flowers were flowers and the weeds were really weeds that it became time to decide which to keep.

This is like our writing. We have an idea. We put time into it. We give it fertile ground and let it grow. We pour out the words until we see something amazing and new. And then, we have to revise it. But, just like with my flower garden, we don't know what to pull out and what to keep until it's had a chance to really grow, until we know what works and what doesn't. If we try to pull out things too soon, we may be getting rid of something beautiful without realizing it and leave the weeds behind.

This is why we have to take a break from our manuscripts before we prune them. We have to know which parts to prune and that only happens when we let them grow for a while.

So, friends, how are your stories going? Are you at the let it sit and grow point?


Krista V. said...

Wow, wow, wow, Kayeleen! This is an AWESOME post. I totally get what you're trying to say. (And I think I need to take some of your advice...)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

FANTASTIC post, Kayleen! Really. :-)

Tana Adams said...

Perfectly said! I'm pruning as we speak. I often crave writing when I'm editing and vice versa. Go figure.

ali said...

This is a greta analogy. When we had a landscaper design our yard, he talked about how trees would take about three years before they started to really grow. They needed to Sit, Simmer, and Sprout. I thought of that while reading your post. Hopefully we don't have to wait three YEARS, but I think our MS's still need that simmer and sprout time for sure.

As for me, I'm querying one work and revising another. And, from time to time, writing a little in a very noisy project that wants me to pay attention to it. :)

Marybk said...

Great analogy: giving your writing projects time to grow before pulling the weeds. I recently went through a phase of NOT giving a WiP enough time, so I'm really working on the whole PATIENCE virtue.

Found you from Anita Howard's post, and I'm glad I popped in. :)