Bare branches


I wrote a short story in Seattle years ago called “baby cow, baby cow”.

That morning, I rotated the ficus. Bony branches bearing withered leaves snaked out into the living room. On the branch tips here and there healthy growth surfaced in irregular bursts. The tree’s lush side hugged the living room corner. I’d let the ficus go for months, not wanting to expose its bare side to the light, to have to look every day at the undernourished branches. No one could call the plant beautiful now…

Later, it was growing dark outside my apartment window. The ficus didn’t look so bad in the shadows.

I think about that story a lot, about the fragile branch fingers, devoid of leaves, reaching out into the living room. The big potted tree looked ill. It made my home look ill.

How many of us hide the areas that are weak in our writing? How many of us depend on the writing muscles that are developed and strong? How often do we say to ourselves, “I need to improve my dialogue skills, but writing a novel is so hard already and takes so much time, I’ll just pretend my dialogue abilities are just fine.”?

What if we had the courage to expose those areas where we’re weak. I mean allowing others, a friend, writer’s group, coach, to read our weakness. How can we improve if we don’t seek help. How can we expose our fragility to the light so the leaves will bud, grow, flourish? What are your bare branches? Dialogue? Description? Plot? What could you do nurture growth?

Read the Write Great Fiction series of how-to books. Take a workshop on plot development. Read the masters for dialogue or description, take copious notes. Go back to the dialogue in your work and spend weeks or months improving it.

How might that help your writing? How might it help you get published?

I’m a writing coach and offer a free initial consultation.

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