Every Spring I start itching to dig my hands deep into the earth. I need to feel dirt under my nails and squish mud between my toes. Plants begin to peep out of the garden center at Home Depot and inside a small voice whispers, "It's just ONE tomato plant. It can make it until May."
Not so. The truth, at least the truth in Georgia, is if you plant anything before Good Friday it is bound to die in one last ditch effort of Winter. Every single year, February dawns and we have a week of warm, delicious weather. Then it's freezing again. Then March creeps in and the sun shines and we tentatively break out the t-shirts only to have to rush in for coats closer to April. Then, yes, THEN, Good Friday reaches us (sometimes in March, most time in April) and it's suddenly Spring. The time has now come to dig deep, plant much, and watch the world come alive.
To plant a garden we require tools: spade, shovel, tiller, watering can. Perhaps your garden plot is a bit bigger and your tools require gasoline and roaring engines. Regardless of size and scope, gardens require tools and timing.
Kind of like writing.
When I sat down a year ago to pen a novel, I was certain I was ready. I've been writing for 18 years. I've finished six manuscripts. I've submitted only one and that has been rejected many, many times. I went back to school, changed genres, wrote a book in a week this past February. Then I went dry. It was as if that one week of warmth gave me the false hope that I could spit out book after book and edit after edit. I finished that one book and started the next. I floundered.
The time was not right.
Easter came. Warm weather is here to stay. Finally I can walk outside without a sweater. And two days ago I sat down with that aforementioned started book and typed for three hours. Plot development fell into place. Characters were now flesh and bone. The middle and the end tapped me on the shoulder and I had one, gigantic "Ah HA!" moment with them both.
How can we know when the time is right for our stories? It's not as easy as the garden. We have to be in tune with the Muse. There is no "Writer's Forecast". The only thing we can do is show up and write. We'll write crap; we'll write brilliance. The important thing is to write.
And when the time is right, we'll be able to put those seeds deep into the ground, water them, and watch them come alive.