Spring has finally sprung here in Northern New England (we’re always a little behind when it comes to warm weather). So BF and I took the opportunity to drive through the countryside with the windows down, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of spring.
With my arm out the window being kissed by the warm breeze, I inhaled deeply. I smelled lilacs, other nameless flowers and . . . shit. The harsh scent assaulted my nose as we drove by a farm whose fields were dotted with big brown piles of plop. Which got me thinking (a first, since I’d never mused about manure before).
Part of the beauty I was delighting in was spawned from the dark dung heaps surrounding us. The word fertilizer floated into my mind. (Shocking, I know, that I thought of a word.) I realized that the shit I was wrinkling my nose at was almost entirely responsible for the natural world around me. The feces fed the trees and gardens, which fed the birds and ants, which propagated the spread of flora and fauna alike. (Do you see where I’m going with this?)
No manure, no miracle. The word writing quickly followed my previous turd-related thought. Sometimes, our writing looks (and maybe smells, metaphorically speaking) like, well, shit. We write and write and write and sometimes yield what appears to be a total flop. Sighing, we hover our cursors over the delete button. Don’t do it! Instead, pause, take a deep breath (hopefully the scent you smell is sans scat odors), and let the word fertilizer waft into your mind.
You see, it’s possible that what you just wrote—crappy as it may seem (see what I did there?)—may fertilize your next draft. Maybe hidden in the muck is a seedling of the theme, plot, or character you’ve been trying to create. Maybe, just maybe, buried somewhere in that whole heap of what you’re about to deem waste is a tiny shoot waiting to bloom into the sentence that will be the first in your final manuscript.
Consider that what you’ve just written may very well blossom into the rest of the story. Sure it looks like shit now, but after you spread it around and sprinkle it here and there, the result could be the garden you were trying to grow in the first place. So don’t flush it just yet.
Save it in a folder titled “Shit Drafts” (I have one named “Shit Writing”) and save the file as “Fertilizer.” Let it lay dormant for a while then go through and pull the weeds out. You might discover the fruits of your labor are taking root in that big pile of shit.