“Never has a potato been laden with such a heavy burden.” My cousin Anna suggested I begin with that line, and she was right. . . it’s exactly what I wanted to say about writing today. . . who knew potatoes had such power?
But they do. Actually, everything does. That’s the pleasure of being a writer (and probably a painter or sculpture or webdesigner, but please don’t ask me to do anything visual – have you seen my stick figures?). . . we can make something out of almost anything: an idea, an image, a potato.
Anyway, back to the potatoes. . . it’s spring (at least officially – we do have a forecast of snow for Sunday though), and so the garden must go in. This is the first year I’ve had access to a “real” garden; usually, I’m planting in little boxes that never get quite enough sun. This week I’ve put in greens, swiss chard, radishes, carrots, and peas . . . today, I added in the potatoes – red ones and Yukon golds, if you’re curious. They were my little bit of “creative output” for the day.
And they are inspiring to me as a person and a writer. Follow along to see what I mean.
Step 1. Take a potato. You could eat it, or you could plant it.
Step 2. Decide to plant it.
Step 3. Cut it into pieces, leaving a couple of “eyes” per piece.
Step 4. Dry out the pieces to prevent rot.
Step 5. Dig some holes in the ground.
Step 6. Drop said pieces into the holes.
Step 7. Pile up dirt on pieces so that you have little hills.
Steps 8-12. Wait.
Step 13. Dig up the potatoes.
Step 14. Go to 1.
Writing is the same. You have this idea, this image, this potato, if you will. You can either consume it (i.e. think about it and forget about it) or you can plant it on the page. Sometimes you have to carve it up to make it grow; you almost always have to let it sit so that it’s ready to go onto the page. You put it down there. You work it into the soil a bit. . . and then you wait. You wait to see if it germinates into something bigger; you wait while it gets bigger (even as you add to it). Then, you dig it up to share with people who will love that you grew such a thing.
See potato=writing. Anna was so right. And I have the best job in the world.
What metaphors apply to your writing? How do you feel about potatoes?