Thursday, July 26, 2007

Free to Bloom

By Nichole Giles

Climbing wildly up my back yard pergola are vines of different varieties, some more mature than others, but all growing tall and thick. I was particularly proud of one Trumpet Creeper, which had grown taller and thicker than all the other vines, and just this year began to bloom with beautiful, fragrant flowers. That vine is my favorite this year, since it has proven to have great potential beauty. It became so lush and healthy, that it began to grow outward along the patio, and into other plants. The taller vines grew heavy and burdensome with lush greenery, and a great many began to hang down at about face height, threatening to break off and fall to their deaths on the patio below.

I stood on the patio a few days before I was to host a picnic, determined to tame this beautiful creature, but unsure of the best method. (As I have mentioned before, my thumbs are not completely green.) First, I tried winding the vines among themselves, twisting them together and training them up over the top of the overhang, but the vines refused to cooperate. Next, I bought some greenery wire and attempted to anchor the bulk of the vines to the pergola’s wooden beam, but as I said, the vines were heavy and thick, and only a few of the strongest vines stayed secure. Finally, as a last resort, I snatched a pair of trimmers and did the unthinkable. Standing on a ladder holding a fistful of greenery I began snipping and chopping, and I was brutal. I cut back every unruly, rebellious, or misbehaving branch of that beautiful plant. Including some of the very few branches that had begun to bloom. (sniff, sniff!)

It was a hard choice, but it had to be made for the good of the yard. I mean, lets face it, no one wants to be smacked in the face by a flower every time they walk down the stone steps, no matter how good the flower smells.

When I was finished, I dragged away the ladder, and then the city-sized garbage can full of vine clippings. When I came back and looked up, I was amazed with what I saw. I had expected my vine to look sad and bare with its wild beauty mostly thrown away, but the end result turned out differently. The vine wound magnificently through itself, some of the thick wood was exposed, and a great deal of greenery remained. Those branches I had managed to anchor to the pole wound up and around the top, adding natural shade to the slats above. And even though I had cut some of the blooms, I was now able to see that under all the heavy foliage were several tiny sun-seeking buds, just waiting for me to free them. (They have continued flowering all month.)

Though it was beautiful to begin with, my now tamed vine had strength and practicality, and though I never would have believed it when I started out, the trimmed down version was far more impressive.

There is a lesson to be learned from the vine. A story may be beautiful and strong. We may try our best to wind or anchor the branches, but sometimes it’s best to prune even our most precious blooms. But before you shed a single tear over the loss of these things you’ve cut, stand back and look at how impressive your story has become.

That is the end result, and what the editors will see: the trimmed down version that winds majestically to the climax, and then gracefully finishes with aplomb. So go ahead. Grab your delete button and a handful of words and get going. It’s time to free your story and let it bloom.


Marsha Ward said...

Wow! What a great analogy, Nichole. Thanks!

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Great analogy, Nichole. Really, really great.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks, Marsha and Candace. I'm hoping to take my own advice now.

Thanks for commenting.


Annette Lyon said...

Tough thing to do, but you're right; sometimes cutting is the best thing for a book. That delete key sure feels hard to push at times, though. :)

Nichole Giles said...

You are so right, Annette. I guess a writer has to learn to get along with that hard key, though. One day it will be our best friend.


Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

What a great reminder about the power of cutting! I've learned to cut (at least I tell myself I have), but I've also found that I can do it easier if I save it in another file, just in case I decide I want those specific words back. Maybe it's cheating, just a little, but it works for me.

By the way, I've tagged you at!
P.S., I enjoy your blogs.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks Ronda! I'll go have a look at your blog.