By Keith fisher
At one time in our life, my wife and I were living in a one-and-a-half-bedroom house with a nice yard. It was in a great neighborhood and we liked the ward. Since the house was too small for us, we decided to remodel.
I wanted to keep my garden space so the plan called for a second story. In order to accomplish that, I needed to shore up the foundation. (Now don’t laugh). Since I had to dig around the foundation, which was on top of the ground, I decided I would dig a basement by hand under the house.
(I asked you not to laugh.) I’m sure you can imagine some of the problems that arose. I was even knocked to the ground and partially buried by a giant dirt clod (about 4 feet by 8 feet by 2 feet). I was more careful after that.
Anyway, the point is, that while I was digging I discovered many wonderful things; cool rocks I haven’t Identified yet, tools and antique gizmos that were left behind by 90 years of occupancy, I even found a can of arsenic that was almost full. That sounds like the makings of a good plot for a book doesn’t it?
One of the things that I found was an old root, suspended in the ground between several rocks. I was resting between shovels full and looked it over. It occurred to me that there was a great object lesson in that root. That old root was once young and trying to grow perfect and round and in a straight line, but because of the rocks in its way it grew crooked. The real lesson for me was the flat spots where it had forced its way between two hard objects. It continued to grow even though it had to change the plan.
There are many lessons we can learn from the root but here is one that you may like: when plotting our stories we often write ourselves into a corner. We get to a point when we know our plot won’t work or it’s too unbelievable. We need to remember the root and grow around it. Make our story fit and take it in a different direction. When we discover we can’t go around it, we must make it work by going back and rewriting the beginning. In that way we are like the root as it flattened out and filled the small space between the rocks. The root fulfilled a purpose and overcame obstacles that were placed before it.
I finished the foundation, but never put a floor in that basement. I didn’t finish our renovation plans. Instead, we moved two blocks to the north. When we moved, I brought that wise old tree root with me. It sits on a shelf above my desk and reminds me of the changes I must make, to be the writer (the person), I want to be.