Mental Compost

I have absorbed many new experiences, read lots of books, and have lots of ideas for short stories, novels, characters, plots, and all manner of writerly activities. And I have not written any of them.

I read recently that one of the most common mistakes new chef’s make is “messing with it too much.” This refers to messing with the recipe, moving the food around in the saute pan, and generally fiddling with everything, so nothing turns out the way it should. I tend to do that with stories. Right now, I am letting the ideas compost. This means, I leave them where they are and let them turn into fertile ground for a story. I have started and stopped writing two stories in the past week because I rushed them onto paper and into a form too early. I don’t have my timing right.

Patience, a virtue I thought I possessed, is scant at the moment, yet I know it is absolutely necessary. I have not found a way to take the unstructured ideas in my head, throw them in a blender and end up with a perfect smoothie every time. I usually end up with large chunks of exposition, stringy dialogue, and a sense of frustration. So this is me waiting. Letting the good ideas sit and wait. Watching the clock for the time when something blooms among the composting ideas, and I can prune it into a story.


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