I sat in the dirt today. On one side, amongst strawberry plants, weeds sprouted. I ignored them. On the other side, fledgling carrot tops began their search for sun. I plucked tiny weeds near their bases. Carrots thrust deep roots into the soil. They don’t need competition. Strawberries send their shoots beneath the soil.
Moving on, I snapped old leaves off kale plants to feed to the chickens. Some leaves were spoiled by too much rain dragging their ends down to the soil. I glanced at the strawberries and snorted. They’re like me, I thought. They have their ideas, all stemming from the same root.
I went among the pepper plants, one of them drooping with too much fruit. Nothing could come to fruition. I recalled my disbelief when my first book garnered less than glowing comments, totally deserved. The fruit was green, just as I was. I plucked the largest peppers, but saw myself taking ideas from others.
I looked at the plant and saw the seed. I looked at the weeds stealing water from the plant. I thought about how much I’d grown as a writer since that first day a couple of years ago when I wrote my first words. I pulled the weed and ripped out the roots of my plant.
There’s honestly no better time to witness roots wrenched from their soil.
The plant had produced.
So had I.
But neither had matured.
One of the problems with this fertile Brazilian soil is how fast weeds grow. You’d think the weeds would have shallow roots. It isn’t true, much to my chagrin. These weeds have deep roots. They flower and spread their seeds. It’s kind of like the willingness to accept someone saying your writing isn’t very good.
We hold deep to our ideas. We don’t want to let go.
Weeds grow despite our every wish. They especially like the bases of fences, but will also grow wherever you Really Don’t Want Them.
I examined my roots.
I gathered compost to mix into the soil and carefully built a base around the uprooted plant.
Doing so, I realized that I’d begun to plan for a moment like this.
How often do the words we use have to do with the past?
The past is a pasture we walk through alone. There are places we remember where we’ve stopped. There are others we pass by, not forgetting, but decide to ignore. Yet, the feeling of the past yields tiny flowers blooming. They pop up like weeds, indefatigable, undefeatable. A writer sees them, and embraces them.
Much like strawberry flowers.
Imagine the fruit as it ripens.
There is little sweeter than a red strawberry when it’s mature.
Our ideas come from what we know, what we’ve learned and what we’ve been taught.
How do we allow them to mature?
SHEA McCANDLESS lives in Brazil with his wife and two young sons. American by birth, wanderer by nature, he is happy where he is because now it's his mind that gets to wander.
"The work Weeding Words came about because I realized that for my writing to go to a higher level I needed to think more about the imagery and symbolism I enjoy using. As some of the technical and structural aspects of writing began to come more easily, I wanted to concentrate on the depth needed to begin to write more mature, full stories that might resonate with a wider audience."