Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Zucchini Raids and Idea Banks

Sharon Wildwind

I spoke to someone recently whose parents live in rural Alberta. She said that the zucchini raids have already begun.

These are not raids to steal zucchini—oh my, no—but to deliver it. They involve careful watching until everyone has left the neighbors’ house. Lovely, huge vegetables, sometimes loaves of zucchini bread, or sometimes both, are left on the porch or in the mailbox. There might be a computer-generated, unsigned note. Enjoy!

Southern Alberta seems to be drowning in zucchini. What we could use is a few more recipes on how to use it or freeze it.

My aunt, from whom I inherited my obsessive traits, used a razor blade and metal ruler to cut recipes from newspapers and magazines. She rubber-cemented them into construction-paper albums. There were three or four on a page, depending on the size of the cutting. She also added cryptic notes in blue ballpoint, such as Mavis’ Tuesday afternoon bridge group, or Does not travel well.

Unfortunately after she died, the relatives clearing her house failed to recognize they had a national treasure and tossed those albums.

A few days after the zucchini conversation, a woman asked me what I do with material I write, but don’t use. I said I let it go. She was horrified. “My dear, you must keep everything in an idea bank for future use.”

I gave the idea an hour’s worth of serious consideration, including played around with computer data base and filing programs, but in the end, I decided an idea bank was easier said than done.

I have bookcases full of hand-written journals, file boxes of partial or completed manuscripts and project notes, and computer backups going back decades. It takes hours and a certain amount of luck to find anything in them. Some things will never be located.

At least when Leonardo DaVinci shuffled through the loose papers that comprised his “notebooks,” he could recognize if he’d found a drawing of rock formations, a helicopter, or his grocery list. Easy retrieval is one of the reasons I envy visual artists.

I think writers reach a certain level of plasticity and self-trust. We recognize that ideas won’t dry up. We may pine for that half-remembered perfect line of dialog or exquisite description, but we also know that, even if we found it, it’s like to have passed its best-before date.

We need to keep writing fresh things. And, maybe, plant a few less zucchini seeds next summer.

Quote for the week
My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.
~Anais Nin, (1903 – 1977), French-Cuban author, and journal-keeper


Julia Buckley said...

That's a really good point, Sharon! We need to rely on the well of creativity and stay in the present.

Anonymous said...

It's taken me a long time to learn that. I've dithered for years about the perfect filing system and have finally admitted there is no such thing.