Mar 11, 2009

Amaryllis Block

by Anna Arnett

About mid December, I bought an amaryllis bulb at a drug store. I knew it was much too late for it to bloom by Christmas, but after all, I'd enjoy it any time. I potted it, watered it often, watched and waited for it to grow. It didn't.

Finally, sometime in January a tiny, green shaft pushed out of the brown bulb, and I rejoiced. My bulb wasn't dead. For several days the shaft reached slowly upward, but after a couple of inches, the tip began to shrivel and by the end of February almost all the green had disappeared. I hadn't meant to neglect my bulb, but I undoubtedly forgot to water it at some crucial point.

Repentant, I gave it water, then touched my fingers to its soil almost daily to check its need. Still, weeks went by with no return of green.

I pondered what to do with my bulb. I considered putting it in the refrigerator to simulate winter. I thought of tossing it in the trash as a lost cause. Instead, I gave it another drink to dampen it a few more days. I'd keep it like I keep papers cluttering my desk, or long-unworn clothing in my closet, or left-overs spoiling in the refrigerator. Pure procrastination, I know.

Monday, after I returned from my brother-in-law's burial (a fitting military formality almost identical to my husband's last March, sans planes flying overhead) I discovered a touch of greenery atop my amaryllis bulb. A small, but broad, shoot poked up, thumbnail high. Tonight, it measures a healthy four and a half inches, and beside it a half inch of new green pushes a withered tip upward. I'm encouraged. With more diligent care, I think I'll yet enjoy a beautiful flower.

That, I thought, is the way with my writing. When I neglect to write in favor of other activities -- even important literary ones like reading and answering e-mail, attending meetings, devouring books, critiquing, etc. -- my work in progress comes to a standstill. Ideas for further scenes seem to disappear, and "writer's block" takes over. Self-doubt replaces enthusiasm, and the growth of my writing project not only halts, but withers.

My amaryllis bulb gives me renewed hope. I can write and eventually finish. From this moment on, I can spend at least ten minutes a day on my own story. And knowing me, if I get in a good ten minutes I'll probably not stop there. My story will grow, and some day it will achieve fruition.

P.S. I know it's past bedtime, but I'm fired up. As soon as I post this, I'm going to open my WIP and give it a good ten minutes. That way, I'll change my above 'can' to 'will'.


  1. Great post Anna. Timely for me. I have neglected my writing and gotten just where I felt like giving up. The prospect of working on a piece just seemed overwhelming. You have given hope.

  2. This is a timely post for me as well. Getting back to a neglected WIP can seem overwhelming but the idea of a little water a day is doable. Thanks.

  3. Grandma you are so cute! This lesson could be applied to so many aspects of life. Like scripture reading for example. Thanks for your post!

  4. Thanks for the inspiring words today, Anna. Great analogy!

  5. Your words are always so timely, Anna...or perhaps I just have so many areas where I need improvement that anything you say will find a place in my heart! I, too, picked up a long neglected manuscript this week. The ANWA conference gave me just enough hope to nudge me forward. Thank you for another wonderful nudge in the right direction! You Rock, Anna!

  6. Great strategy! Anna, I should follow your example!

  7. Thanks Anna, So much is about not giving up, and giving ourselves every chance.


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