There’s a magic garden in my head. Something is growing. Worlds are being created. Lives. Turns of events. It’s amazing and astounding, real magic, not like a lady being sawed in half but something appearing, out of thin air!
For many years, I’ve had the germ of an idea for a novel, not much more than a concept really: a character who is this has that happen to him. The idea has lingered like a seed in a packet, inert, awaiting instructions, hardshelled and dry. It’s been in storage for a long time. I don’t know if you realize this but seeds have a shelf life.
So do people and writers and brains. Back when I turned 40, having been a journalist and small newspaper owner for a decade and having subsequently found a new love in writing humour, I thought, “Well, what are you going to do? Keep doing? Or do more?”
Out of that self-assessment I began contributing to radio, which was followed by the publication of my first collection of columns and now my second. Now I’m closing in on 50. In a recent interview to promote the latest book, I said something like, “Sure, I’d like to write a longer work but I have a job, kids in school, bills, a life. Maybe someday… For now, I’ll just stick to doing what I’ve been doing.”
Well, I’m running out of somedays, and there’s just no fun to be had in regret.
So a couple of weeks ago, I prepared a patch of soil in my head. I took that seed — a magic bean, as it turns out — and I tucked it gently in, doused it with a little water and bullshit. And, what do you know, something is sprouting! Something is happening, though I don’t know yet whether it’s a flower or a fruit or some kind of fungus.
Whatever’s at work, atoms and molecules of thought are coming together. A town that was just a town now has a name and a history. The main character that has lingered in that packet of seeds for years has had its DNA scrambled and is now a woman. There are beavers involved. A sinkhole has appeared. A sinkhole! Plots are taking root and sending out runners. Faces are unfolding as I drive my car or walk in the woods. Character names crop up from unexpected inspirations; yesterday, my cup of Meyer Lemon Tea begat Mayor Lemon — not pronounced the same but I love the playful scent of it!
I have yet to write a single word of a single chapter. I have to find the time, give something up, uproot existing plants to make way for this new harvest, and I won’t know until I get dirty whether I have the nurturing, the patience, the green thumb to produce anything more than some stunted stillborn thing, wan and unwanted. But right now, I am dazzled by the fertile magic of creation and possibility.