Mel Brooks said it first, but Anne Lamott echoed him, applying his strange advice to the craft of fictional characterization:
"Listen to your broccoli and it will tell you how to eat it."
I've been listening a lot lately. The problem is, I have a female stalk of broccoli that is very conflicted about the direction her story is going; and she's not too happy about where she's at.
Looks like it's time for a major re-write. Again.
I love this part.
I love the electricity; the zzzing! that I know will crackle through the air when my "broccoli" finally speaks; that beautiful "aha!" moment when I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, exactly who she is, who she wants to be, and what she's going to do next to reach that goal. I live for those time-out-of-mind hours spent frantically pounding out her story; those times when I know that I cannot at all take any sort of credit for the magic that shows up on the page... because it's bigger than me.
When it's good, it's Him. He's the author and I'm the transcriptionist; translating a particular truth into fiction; a Truth that burns in my heart like a fire.
Among many other wonderful things things I learned at the Writing for the Soul Conference last February, author Diann Mills pointed me toward Jeremiah 20:9; it has since become the motto for my writing life.
But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
- Jeremiah 20:9
The fire is not hot enough yet to steam this particular stalk of broccoli... but it's getting warmer.
Like the trees which were bare on Wednesday, but are now exploding with scent and bloom, my broccoli is getting ready to speak... and I'm getting ready to listen; no, to translate. Because Fiction Mirrors Truth and, while fiction blooms in season, Truth is evergreen.
After all.... it's Spring.