It’s spring in California, which means rain and green, green weeds. I’ve let them go around my house. The place looks wild. Not abandoned, just wild. Like crazy ladies that spit and wear purple might live in that yellow house on the hill. I used to yank the bromes and foxtails out from between the iris beds, pull the mustard up from along the driveway, and dig the mallow off the hillside. This year I’ve let the the weeds grow tall and thick. It’s hard to watch them, because I know someday I’ll have to cut them all back before they become a fire hazard, but today, they are growing. They are as happy I think as weeds can be. When I’m not dwelling on the ordeal of weed-whacking come summer, I can relax into their fertile, unforced beauty.
Writing is like tending the weeds. I can pluck, trim, and shape each idea as it arises, or I can let each sprout into it’s full potential. I can allow them to grow wild, untended. It’s been my habit to push my stories where I think they should go. I prod, fuss, and meddle. I force my plots to go where I think they must, that they will convey what I think others want to hear. All this shaping, paring, and trimming eventually creates a book, a book that while quite lovely and acceptable, is clearly controlled. What if I just let my ideas grow where they wanted? What if I didn’t limit them to perfectly manicured plots, letting them root freely instead? The resulting story might not be pretty. It may be too wild for some. It might stir their own managed wildness, making them shy in fright.
Too bad. For I am becoming that crazy woman that lives in the yellow house on the hill. I am letting my beautiful green weeds grow wild. I won’t let them take over and become next season’s tinder, but today I am giving them their full, glorious head. If they frighten you, look away. If you’re curious, come closer. For in their wild swaying beauty, you might just find your own.