Posted by Lynne
The faith waiting in the heart of a seed promises a miracle of life which it cannot prove at once.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
In 2000, my mother was flattened by a stroke and in her suffering she handed me the seed that would become my second novel. The character she inspired is not her in most ways. Nor are any of the other characters, found in my work-in-progress inspired by people I've known, real people. Or the plot points I’ve chosen, real events. Yes, I’ve taken details—other seeds—from my life and placed them in my protagonist’s home or let them slip from the lips of my supporting characters’ mouths. They are merely seeds. The dictionary definition of which is: that from which anything springs; a first principle; the original source.
My protagonist and her husband meet in a museum. My husband and I met in a bar, but the idea for my fictional couple’s meeting place stems from the little known fact that I told my grandmother I met my husband in a museum because our reality would have been unseemly to her back then. She later told me she knew the truth, but liked my fib much better. “It’s more romantic,” she said. Seed.
A major symbol in my work-in-progress is curtains. Swag, tab and pinch pleat. With their names as unique as pets, one of my characters adores designing and sewing them. Though my own mother never designed anything, and could barely thread a needle to sew a button on, she did love to change the curtains in our home. I remember she once said to me, “You wouldn’t wear the same clothes for six months, why would you want to look at the same curtains.” Seed.
Last fall when Life Without Summer sold to St Martin’s, my enormous delight was tinged with a spot of regret for not pursuing my fiction career sooner; I will be forty-nine when my debut novel hits shelves. Through the years I’ve looked in many places to find my personal form of artistic expression. Then came raising my children, launching my business, and writing my nonfiction. Still I wonder why I didn’t pursue this creative passion years ago.
Then last week, fully into writing a first draft of my second novel, it hit me that my age is actually a gift I couldn’t exchange now. I was reminded that I have no shortage of seeds to inform and give authenticity to my work. As I write, details spring from my life experience. Right there just underground, is a memory that is exactly what I need to round out a scene, the particulars act as motivation for a character. Digging deeper, I pull out a fabulous name from my childhood for a key character, and I unearth from a family vacation, the perfect setting for a cliffhanger. My days and nights working in an intensive care unit as a nurse, while putting myself through grad school, give me the fine points I'll need for two high stakes pivotal scenes. These details are organic, and though borrowed from another life, I have faith they will give genuineness to this one I am creating.
The seeds are there; planted over many years, they wait for all of us. Mature writers, like experienced gardeners, know when the time is right for harvest.
Postscript—The opening quote was a seed for this blog entry.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Posted by Lynne