Uprooting and Replanting Your Words

I was looking at my garden this week.  Okay, that’s a joke.  I was looking at the area that used to be a beautiful garden.

It’s full of something green, and fluffy.  But I’m really sure it’s not the flowers I planted a few years ago.  Whatever this is has completely taken over every inch of ground since last fall.  And it’s sneering at me.  (Can’t you feel it?)

I’ve never claimed to be a master gardener.  But it used to be that I could plant something, water it occasionally, scratch the dirt around it a few times, and it would burst into blooms of riotous color.

But this… this stuff that’s out there now… I never planted it, I didn’t expect it, and I certainly don’t want it.  And I can pretend that it’s real flowers, the desirable kind, until it blooms and spews noxious weed cooties all over the rest of my lawn.  Or, I can get out there, dig it up, and start over.

Sometimes my writing is like that.  I could swear I’ve been filling each page with shiny enticing words.  And then I step away for a couple of days and come back to pages choked with something I never planned, and don’t want.

I don’t love pulling weeds, and digging new holes for old plants.  I’m not fond of starting over and re-doing all the hard work I put into my garden of words in the first place.

But sometimes, there’s no choice.  If that paragraph, and that one, and maybe the other, are weeds growing in the garden of my story, then I must yank them out and toss them on the burn pile.  If this pages-long scene doesn’t fit here… then I must uproot it, prepare a new spot for it, and tamp it lovingly into its new home.  And if that main character doesn’t work with the other, it’s time to move him to a new spot in the background.  Or get him a job out of town.

Ahh, a gardener’s work is never done.  Nor is a writer’s.  I’ll meet you over by the fountain.  You bring a shovel and I’ll bring the wheelbarrow.  We’ll get this story planted with the words that do it justice.

Do you have a story that’s become overgrown?  This is the perfect time of year to trim it up, plant it afresh, and submit it somewhere.