I’m not even sure when we bought it, or if it was the only plant we purchased that day (or what day of the week or time of year it was when we picked it out of the pile of others), or if I gave it a first or second thought. I do know that Sheryl put it in the soil. She personally plants every flower, sage, grass or sedum we welcome into our yard and garden.
I first noticed it in the middle of a hot summer in 2005. Sheryl had planted the sedum in the center of an old, short, steel garbage can we had picked up at a yard sale. Like most desert plants, it didn’t need much water, but we had been particularly inattentive to its needs. Neither of us could remember the last time either of us had watered it, but there it was, fighting, determined to live regardless. I admired its resiliency, growing boldly in neglected soil, and from that moment on, I took personal interest in its care.
We transplanted it from the garbage can to the lush soil of our front yard. It doubled in size the first year in the new location, tripled the year after. Whenever I would return home, I would walk past the sedum on my way inside. It always caught my attention. It gave me happiness, seeing it there.
When we sold our house in Salt Lake, the hardest part of moving was leaving behind the yard we had put so much love and effort into maintaining. We knew we couldn’t take everything with us, but there was no way we were leaving that sedum behind.
returned to its old garbage pail home, we drove across the valley to South Jordan and placed it on the back yard patio. Again, the sedum showed its fortitude by surviving another two winters and a full summer in a confined space. Once our landscaping was complete, we placed the sedum in a prime location.
Now, each morning when I take the dog outside (or each afternoon and evening), I see it, waving in the (never ending) wind, like it is saying hello to me. It is a connection to my past, a marker for a future. It is a reminder, one that changes in meaning as time passes.
I recently joined a community of writers called the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The purpose is to encourage, offer advice and generally be supportive of all sorts of writers. I won’t say I was skeptical, because I firmly believe that the only way to improve my writing is to get advice and feedback from other writers (and readers). I have been writing since I was 8 years old, but I still have much to learn. I get better, keep growing, because of support and advice from people who have experienced similar struggles and situations. Being afraid or unwilling to take criticism, or quality advice is foolish, and I do not want to miss out on opportunities to better my craft.
Some of the best advice I have received about writing in general came from a good friend of mine, Josh Hanagarne. I’m pretty sure he didn’t come up with this on his own, but let’s pretend. He’s pretty smart and an exceptional writer, so even if he didn’t think of the words himself, he said them to me in a way that sunk in and made sense.
I was struggling with whether or not a critical moment in a novel I was writing might be misinterpreted by readers. I didn’t want to make a huge mistake. He responded with a question.
He wasn’t being cruel or sarcastic, but pointing out something many amateur writers struggle with- Writing for readers they do not yet have.
Write clearly, write confidently. Write with conviction and honesty. Wasting time worrying about readers that do not yet exist can cripple a story and defeat a writer.
Too many times, I had stopped myself and aimlessly rewritten a section out of this very worry. More often than not, I made my writing worse trying to please imaginary readers who might find offense or misunderstand. I heard what Josh was trying to tell me, and I was able to push through the difficulty and finish the draft.
What a sensational feeling, finishing a first draft of a novel. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than that experience.
This is the sort of thing I’m looking for by being a member if the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I’m sure as I continue writing, I will come across new and unexpected challenges. I hope to find more calming, wise voices to help me through.
If you want to be part of this group, check them out here http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html and ask to join the party on Facebook.