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Dorothy shouldn’t’ve gone back to Kansas.

the back yard

In the backyard, I sat under the kitchen window behind a hibiscus bush. The hibiscus bush grew up to the gutter along the roof. The space was a cave. One side white scuffed wall, the other side and roof branches, leaves and red flowers, the floor black dusty dirt. Jill, the german shepherd, sat in the dirt with me and I would tell her everything.

I was seven, eight, or nine. Jill died when I was nine. Grandma sold the house when I was 13.

You can’t expect others to take care of your memories and hibiscus flowers don’t contain magical properties.

No one else is going to care about your story as much you. No one is going to care about it in the same way. What is the condition of your novel right now? Well-tended, trimmed, weeded, painted, and bright? Neglected, wild, overgrown, and dark? Is it in the middle of your busy life, on the edge of your thoughts where you go once in a while, or far out past a bridge to nowhere? Oz?

11 thoughts on “Dorothy shouldn’t’ve gone back to Kansas.

  1. Overgrown, a vagrant sprawl, leading separate lives in at least two different notebooks, a folder with handwritten emendations radiating over the pages, a notebook with neater, more orderly pages, a stack of index cards, napkins, and a tissue from a Subway sandwich shop. It flutters in and out of my dreams, reminds me of a VW I had once that wouldn’t stop once it started and didn’t want to start once it stopped; it behaves like a cat who once lived with me, who bit people on the foot. All of this is to say it is just fine and shows no signs as of yet of wanting to unfriend me.

  2. This is a good analogy for my relationship with my wip. For almost two years it was such a mess I couldn’t stand to look at it directly. I’d concentrate on individual scenes, or part of the plot, or a single character, but I couldn’t look at it as a whole. I was overwhelmed by its wilderness. No fewer than 20 different files for this book on 3 computers, plus a forest of notebook paper and print-outs.

    But now it’s all trimmed and purty, and I can look at it as a whole for the first time. It’s a good, too, because today’s my day for Write Your @ss Off. 🙂

    • Wish I could manage that, but I have to do this massive editing thing to finish up my diss (sorta like a novel, but not as creative) so I can graduate. My advisor told me Chapter 1 had to be totally redone. So after a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally rewrote it the last few weeks. Now I have just a few days to edit the whole damn thing before I turn it into him. It’s so overgrown, weedy, and helplessly confused (to mix metaphors). I’ll keep shaping, I guess.

  3. Mine’s in the middle of a renovation. I stopped halfway through it and there are clusters of debris, broken two-by-fours, half-boards of gypsum, scattered nails and screws, bare walls, and broken tiles all over it. The air in there is choked and smells of must and dust from sheet rock and drying paint. My feet grind over raw floor boards. There are tarnished copper pipes poking out of the wall and floors, exposed wires in open sockets and hanging from fixtures. If there’s a yard it’s a dirt expanse with a couple of painted stakes jabbed into the ground to mark the boundaries.

    Ugh. It’s a mess. But hey — maybe now there’s time to redress the ol’ biddy and see what’s in there.

  4. Mine sounds a lot like Darc’s. A bunch of rooms were roped off or completely boarded up. Now that I’ve gone to night school for my locksmithing certification, I’ve been able to get into even the most stubborn rooms. Still a hell of a lot of dust on the floors and furniture in these rooms, though. I think I need one of those EPA-approved face masks.

    In general, I wish I were further along — and ecstatic to have gotten this far. No wonder writers often think they’re crazy, eh?

  5. Oh man. My heart hurts for you. That’s so hard to see, the childhood places either gone or in disrepair. I so know how that feels. I learned that lesson too – you can never go back, only forward. It taught me to keep the memories precious because I can’t make any more there.

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