I blog about this both here and over at Book View Cafe. Feel free to comment either here or over there.
When I moved into my house about three years ago, I had no idea that I was horribly allergic to a plant in the front yard.
I didn’t find out about it until after I’d been there a year. I had spent most of a Sunday puttering in the yard, both in the front and the back. Later that night, my arms itched and hurt. When I finally stopped to look, I found I had welts running across them. It looked as though I’d been whipped.
It wasn’t until I brushed up against the demon plant a second time that I was able to pinpoint the culprit.
Innocent enough looking, no?
I had never liked that plant, and now I had a good reason to get rid of it.
So, what about that story inspiration?
Like most writers, when faced with a mundane task like sweeping the floor, dusting, or taking clippers to a hellish plant, I began to “storify” my experience.
Taking the top of the plant out wasn’t the hard part. No, one of the reasons I had always despised it was because it sent out shoots and was constantly trying to take over that entire bit of the yard. After I dug out the monstrous roots of the main plant, I started digging and pulling out all the shoots.
Each root would shoot out singly until it reached what I called a junction point. From there, it would multiple into four or five more more long roots.
Suddenly, I was a farmer, human, on far away planet, attempting to save my crops from this alien beast. Common wisdom was that you didn’t have to kill all of it, just enough of the root system.
But what was enough?
The roots in my yard were entangled with the white slimy bulbs of what’s locally referred to as Squill — a hybrid Spanish Bluebell that grows like a weed here in Seattle. They’re pretty enough in the spring, but they’ll choke out all your other plants, given a chance. The only way to get rid of them is to dig out the bulbs.
What if my farmer also found such roots? That the two plants seemed to be growing together? Looks out over his field, toward the house, surrounded by the pretty blue flowers that his new wife loves so much.
Tearing them out is going to break her heart, as well as test their already shaky union. But the plants need each other. If he doesn’t kill them both, he’ll lose his crop. What’s he going to do?
I don’t know if I’ll ever write this story, called, “The Farmer’s Dilemma.” I may, though. And the answer to his question may be found in the huge “birds” that flock to his newly plowed fields, with weird, fur covered exoskeletons and long, hooked beaks.
As always, if this inspires you to go finish the story, please do! What you create and what I create will be 100% different.