Of all the definitions of “engage,” the one that most attracts me is the intransitive verb “to come together and interlock .” Sounds a little sexy, doesn’t it?
So many things out there in the world that I am longing to be engaged to, and with. One of them is writing. Too often I push it off into a corner to wait.
Waiting enrages writing. It becomes first irritated, sitting spikily in the corner of your mind, its edges becoming ever sharper, poking you for attention. If you don’t engage you are risking those points burning themselves to ash, and then you have consequences.
Consequences come around in the form of memory loss, or disrespect for perfectly wonderful ideas or inspirations. If you don’t deal with consequences when they arrive, you will risk losing the whole thing and missing an opportunity that may never come around again out of pure and unrelenting spite.
You don’t want spite. At least I don’t. I don’t like spite. Spite squirts a caustic poison on not only the idea you had, but on those new little seeds of ideas that are just starting. It’s like Round Up, but it doesn’t just work on the weeds. It can spread to every creative idea you are likely to have for some time. So let’s do what we can to prevent spite from ever entering into the process.
Your ideas like room to grow. It isn’t that they have to have full chapters or books written about them, but they love it when you actually get out a pencil or pen and write them down. They don’t mind scraps, or the back of grocery lists. Even a piece of torn paper bag is a good place for an idea to settle. First of all, the act of writing it gives it a place in your mind, a place of respect, if not a room of its own. When you do this, you can sometimes feel the idea shaping itself, owning its value, and perhaps beginning to grow.
It may be only a weed that grows, but that’s not a bad thing. It can become a beautiful, even wondrous weed, and you may be the only one that ever appreciates the true wonder of it, but because it is yours alone it will be of great value and will reward you in unexpected ways.
Tending your writing garden is not very different from tending the one you have in your backyard, or on the patio, or in a pot on a windowsill. Light and air are required, and a little water. Attention is the most important thing, because in giving an idea your attention you will discover what the idea needs to grow.
Don’t let your idea intimidate you with what you consider bad behavior or your lack of gardening skill. Like some plants ideas may go through phases of droop, yellowing along their edges. That’s really okay. Even if these ideas wither and die, they will provide nourishment for those that follow, like the necessary nutrients provided to the soil by spent leaves, grass, and yes, even rotting fruit. Respect for the incredible growing medium of your creative self is the only thing you need.
There is a magic in writing an idea, sketching a plan, committing any small spark of your unique and supremely qualified mind to something you can touch, or see. The alchemy of that process often results in gold, although you may be tempted to treat it as straw.
I love straw; the smell, the color, the smooth crisp feel and the sharp dry cut edges. It is entirely itself. And it can provide nourishment and comfort, even though it is in a transitory state moving its slow and steady way to dust.
Engage your ideas. Ask them to marry you. Give them a shiny important ring, and shower them with acceptance, give them room to grow. You will not be disappointed, I promise you.