Monday, June 14, 2010

Growing Ideas

Post by Jenny

NCW blogger Jennifer C., aka the Girl Who Waits for Peas, recently posted about gardening and writing. Since then, I’ve been watching my garden grow and thinking about the common ground, if you will, shared by gardening and writing. No doubt because it is spring, I keep coming back to the theme of ‘germination.’ (In autumn, I’ll probably wax on about fruition or harvest or the like.)

Seeds fascinate me. Popped from a pod or plucked from a paper packet, a dried seed shows no more apparent potential than a pebble. (Do I get extra points for alliteration?) That a tiny, shriveled seed can develop into a lush plant capable of bearing its own veggies, fruits, or flowers—which then produce even more seeds—is one of nature’s amazing feats.

Not all seeds find their future homes in the same way. Some, as the saying goes, don’t fall far from the tree. Others are borne aloft by the breeze, delivered air-mail by birds, snagged into animal fur, or passed through a digestive tract before being deposited elsewhere. If the conditions are right, the seed will absorb water, burst out of its coat, and head for the light. For me, one of the best parts of spring is tucking a seed into its garden bed, giving it what it requires, and waiting for the curve of its swan’s neck to push up through the dirt.

Ideas are born in much the same way. Somehow, a seed gets planted. Oftentimes, it’s intentional—I’ll hear something interesting or quirky and think it would make a great story. But other times, an idea drifts in from who knows where and settles in my brain. Like a seed, it undergoes a period of quiescence, when it simply rests. If I feel that it might have potential, or if I’m merely curious, I’ll nurture it. And I’ll wait. Sometimes for quite a while. Eventually, if I'm lucky, the idea begins to take root, uncurl, and stretch out, showing me its true shape. After I get a better look at it, I might realize it’s just a weed. Or I might see something unique and compelling that would be more at home in someone else’s garden. If the idea suits me, however, I do my best to tend it and help it reach its potential.

Like seeds, ideas are everywhere. Keep an open mind—a fertile patch of soil somewhere in your writer’s brain—and you never know what might grow there.

What do you do to encourage your ideas?


Jaydee Morgan said...

Ooh, I like this - and you're exactly right. I like to let ideas settle and develop in my head before I try to put them to paper. Like seeds, they need time in the dark to develop before they're formed enough to meet the light. Great post!

Carol Kilgore said...

Wonderful analogy. I'll remember this, too. My seeds usually hang out with other ones in my head and form some kind of pattern before I'm ready to plant them.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What a great comparison and so true. I love it when those little nuggets that seem to blow into my brain by a puff of wind take hold and root. And yes, you get lots of extra points for the great alliteration sentence!)

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