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'.