We have a vegetable garden that is more of a random collection than an intentional structure. I stroll about in it every day, plucking dead leaves or flicking the occasional bug. Tending the tomato plant draws me in. I feel an affinity to Mr. Stripey (the kids named it after its variety) with its chaotic branching and mottled fruits. It reminds me of how I write.
I was training the plant (teaching it to grow in a specific manner) and needed to prune a few branches. Most were small and below existing fruit, but I snipped one by accident that had two tiny tomatoes swelling. I mentioned it to my partner in crime and she stuck it in some potting soil. Tomato plants can sometimes grow roots from a branch, so we crossed our fingers and have been watering it. Today I looked out at the garden and the wayward branch had full, firm leaves, the fruits were bigger, and the whole plant looked taller. A snippet from another story, removed in haste, blossomed into its own. New life from remnants.
Therefore, writers and other creators (almost wrote “creatures” which is also accurate) so often hoard their stories, amassing a wealth of segments: we never know when something cast-off will find a perfect fit somewhere else. I’m drafting a short story about a VR prison, and I spliced the idea from an early draft of Artificial. When I went through it the first time, the whole concept seemed silly and out of place. I clipped it and tucked it away in a folder I labelled “compost”. I dig through the folder, usually when I’m in a rut, and read these half-formed, mostly bad, ideas. Occasionally one of them sparks in my mind and I plant the clipping in new soil.
Stripey Jr. is doing well for a clipped branch. We’re managing our expectations, but two healthy tomato plants would be nice. I hope the same for my story.
When you’re stuck, or when you’re overwhelmed with ideas, dig into the compost bin. You never know what wonders you’ll find, what clarity you’ll gain, or what magick you’ll cast.
Thank you for being readers!