Establishing Our Creative Roots this Winter


Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

I have been trying my hand at growing plants this past year, and one of the things I’ve learned is that some plant bulbs, such as daffodils (which bloom in early spring), should be planted in the cold soil of fall and winter. I was surprised to learn this planting technique, as I would have assumed the bitter coldness of winter would kill off such delicate bulbs in the ground.

I discovered that gardeners plant them in such a way because they want to give the bulbs time to establish a root system before the harshness of winter occurs.

This past week, I have felt like one of those daffodil bulbs, sitting quietly waiting for my writing to take root. My creativity has been sluggish, as if it, too, is burying itself deep in the soil of my mind for winter.

Hoping to find some inspiration today, I took one of my writer friends up on her offer to have me come stay with her for a few days so that we could accomplish some writing together. This morning, despite the current twenty degree weather, I made the long drive up to the mountains to see her.

The drive is a good four hours, and I passed the time by listening to a few episodes of the podcast Story Grid. I just discovered this podcast today, and I am definitely making a note of it for future reference. The podcast has two co-hosts: Shawn, a published author, and Tim, who is a writer working on improving his craft. One episode I listened to today involved Shawn offering advice on Tim’s initial scene for a book. This information provided great advice that I will be able to apply to my own writing.

If you are like me and frequently make long drives, podcasts are a great way to not only pass the hours but to also fit in some writing-focused time. I was in better spirits already just from listening to the podcast on the drive, as it took off the pressure I’d put on myself to produce writing. Instead, I was able to spend a couple hours listening to others talk about their writing which indirectly helped my own.

Once I arrived, my friend and I met up with another member of our writing group, and we three spent the afternoon writing in coffee and tea shops around town. Each of us swapped stories about our inability to write much in the past week, and it occurred to me that maybe I haven’t been alone with trying to re-energize my dormant creativity the last couple days. Could we all be simultaneously trying to establish our creative roots this month?

Perhaps we are not that different from the daffodils and need these few weeks to soak up the world around us so that in time, we, too, can harden our roots and allow the stories within us to blossom.

It inspired me to hear how both of my friends were working through their writing difficulties, not letting a few days keep them down. They created plans that would help them to keep their work going, aiming to finish a certain chapter by the end of the day and to meet up another day this week to continue writing. After a tough week, they were establishing the roots for their works in progress.

This morning, writing anything seemed next to impossible, but after taking the time to listen to other writers and their own creative journeys, I find myself inspired once again. Allowing myself to experience a short period of writing dormancy was just what I needed and will probably need again later this winter. In the meantime however, I can be satisfied that I have written a blog post, so maybe I am establishing some roots of my own after all . . .

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Goodbyes and Hellos: 2019

My partially resurrected plant, in all its glory

Had a funeral for a plant today. Things always get peculiar during periods of unemployment.

It was a great plant, you would have agreed. At one time, it had been a luscious, chlorophyll laden beauty, a pink polka dot plant. A hypoestes phyllostachya, if you will.

It was a Lazarus of a specimen, surviving my periods of moodiness when I first moved across the country to the mountains, sometimes forgetting to water it, then, feeling guilty, overwatering it like some Weekend Parent trying to compensate for their absence with wealth. The plant, too, lived through the great Winter of 2018 with its aptly named “bomb cyclone” furiously rushing in, dumping snow and ice along the Eastern Seaboard, knocking out electricity and blocking roads. It died that week but eventually rose from the dead with four thin, spindly legs pushing out of the soil, a fawn of the Plant World.

It survived yet another move, including a ritualistic re-potting from its small container to a much larger and more spacious pot, which, of course, symbolized my own move onto bigger and better things. A move that included learning and practicing healthy coping mechanisms, developing a lovely relationship, and feeling dreams slowly return in a fairy tale-like kind of way.

My polka dot plant was a wonderful blessing that only died when I didn’t need it anymore, when the sun shone, and I could breathe again. And for that, I said a few words for my plant in the backyard, before I went to work on the tulips.