Ending Summer

Calendar summer

Ended already. Today

It was ended here.

We’ve lived in the same old house for more than 25 years. In that time, we’ve planted trees, shrubs, bulbs, and pretty annuals, learning with time and hard experience what thrives and what does not.

In New England here in the United States, common wisdom is that you don’t plant sweeet, pretty, vulnerable annuals until there is no more risk of killing frost early in May. By then, I’ve prepared the flower beds, wandered the nursery anticipating glorious colors and interesting textures, and am champing at the bit to get the flowers planted.

This past May, when I was magnificently blocked in my writing, I planted flowers, fertilizing and tending the young plants as I could not manage to do with my blog post or my novel. It was glorious, releasing productive energy into something that would grow and thrive.

Today, on a very warm October afternoon, I was stymied again. In reading my latest draft of my novel, I was thrilled to find powerful dialogue and fascinating events and aghast by the genius that failed to show up on the page even with my best outline, highlighted points, and strongest intentions.

I know what’s coming. Weeks ago, when I recognized that there was an unworkable tangle in the middle of the story, I kept on going and jumped ahead to write the end. What is coming is reading my way into the darkest pit of impossible tangles. It’s necessary to do, character and skills-building even, but I really, really don’t want to do it.

After I’d completed cleaning up a nasty mess in the garage, I had a tough choice. I could face story-building monsters or I could yank out the wretched flowers, already diminished by cold nights and not enough rain.

The flowers are yanked.

The story’s teeth are shining bright in her best come hither smile. I’m coming, but first I will make myself a cup of something bracing and warm to face the horrors to come.

Then I will park myself in the sun on the Adirondack chair with my cup of bracing warm, missing the flowers and reading the tangles.

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