Friday, April 22, 2011

Writing is like planting trees?

Recently I cut down three large dead or dying trees from our home’s three acres. This left the front of the property looking pretty barren, so we decided to plant more trees. We brought them home in pots and placed them around the yard. I had no idea at the time how much planting trees is like moving furniture.
And writing for that matter.
After 41 years of marriage I know my wife well enough to know that no matter where I put the trees, she’s gonna want ‘em somewhere else. I had ‘em pretty much where she wanted ‘em when I heard her say about the dumbest thing she’s ever said—well, besides “I do.” She said, “Move that one back about two inches.”
 I’m standin’ in the middle of three acres with this little tree, fifty feet from the nearest object, another tree, and she wants me to move it two friggen’  inches! TWO INCHES!!!
 Who in the Hell can see two inches difference in three acres? I looked around to be sure I didn’t put the tree two inches from a sign that said, “Put tree here,” signed God.
            Now, I wasn’t around at the time, but when God did his plantings, I can’t imagine he was being THAT picky. I could be wrong. Even though I was totally baffled, I did what any sane husband would do, and moved it back two inches, got her blessing, and started digging.
            Doing mindless tasks such as digging gives a person plenty of time to think, so I was trying to puzzle my way through her logic when it hit me--for her, that was exactly the right spot for that tree, and she knew it.
Which brings me back to writing.
When I struggle to find the right word for a sentence and ask her, she says, “Just use…”  But I don’t, because I know it’s just not quite right.
If my three acres was our book, I could see which scene belonged here or where that sentence belonged.  When you think about it, in a 350-page book, a certain paragraph might need to be moved down two lines.
And maybe it’s not so much different from my wife telling me to move the tree back two inches…
…but seriously, I still think it’s about the dumbest thing I ever heard.

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