Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring has sprung??? Life and writing and other stuff . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

Way back in high school (when dinosaurs still roamed the earth) my friend Sandy would quote this little ditty to me every spring:

Spring has sprung
the flowers is riz
I wonder where
the birdies iz.

In spite of that, we stay in touch. Where was I? Oh, yeah, spring. And growing things.

Having flexed her mythical muscles in February with a huge ice storm that kept our area literally in the dark for anywhere from three days to three weeks, Mother Nature is now demonstrating how quickly she recovers. Rebounds. Whatever.

The neighbor a few houses up the road from us has a stand of Bradford Pear trees that were practically destroyed by the recent ice storm. Bradford Pear trees are notorious for splitting down the middle in ice storms and/or high winds, dropping both heavy and light branches in a circle on the ground. Personally, if you gave me a free Bradford Pear tree and hired someone to plant it, I'd have to politely (or possibly not so politely) decline. Did I mention they are notorious for splitting and dropping heavy limbs everywhere, in ice or wind? Anyhow, things have warmed up around here and the neighbor apparently hasn't found time to clean up yet, so when you drive by his place right now you see dead limbs in circles around his trees and the few pitiful branches that did survive are covered in beautiful white spring blooms. Spring is sprunging out all over as I type.

These Bradford Pear trees are VERY common in our area, and I have to admit, despite the major damage they seem to suffer every winter, they do their best to recover. Gotta love their spirit.

Several years ago, as spring was doing its annual sprunging, I spotted a large abandoned farm truck in the middle of a field. Vines had grown around and through openings in the truck, trapping it in the spot where someone parked and left it, who knows how long ago. The truck is held in place by something much smaller, but when the vines work together, they overcome.

That set me to wondering. How often are we, as writers or wannabe writers, held in place, kept from doing our jobs, writing our stories, by things much smaller, working together to stop us? Fear? Indecision? Procrastination? Laziness? Lack of faith in our abilities? Lack of focus? Life? And dare I type it? Old age?

Which brings me to my next point. Late bloomers. If you are "of a certain age" do you remember when you thought thirty was OLD? Sigh. But with so many Baby Boomers recently crossing the line from late fifties to early sixties, we now pretty nearly outnumber the "younger generation." And lest you be fooled by our complaints of aches and pains coupled with "I sure can't do the things I used to" trust me, we've learned to adjust, and you younger folks need to watch out for us.

I recently went into a local large discount store to shop and had to leap to safety in a side aisle when a fellow senior citizen whizzed by me in a motorized chair/shopping cart. And she wasn't the only person using that shopping method. I had to keep one eye on my shopping list and the other on the aisles due to multiple speeding seniors using motorized carts. And whose idea were those dangerous things, anyhow? Mercy! Okay, so I'm thinking of limping into the store so I can try one, myself. Hehehe.

So what is the ratio of older writers out there in the published world, anyhow? A member of Sisters In Crime recently asked on a discussion list who among the authors there were "late bloomers" in the area of writing and publishing their work. An amazing number of mystery writers appear to be, umm beyond our first blush of spring, so to speak. FYI, many of the writers you read and love (who have young sounding names, I might add) are near or at Social Security age. Receiving it, that is, not paying it in.

These are the folks who probably spent the last thirty or so years raising the next generation, working to feed and house said generation, and putting their own dreams on hold. Now we are retired, with much more time. Or at the very least, empty nesters with no little ones to care for 24/7. So we try things we haven't had time to do in decades, like ride a bike, play golf, take long walks, and write down our thoughts. Some of our thoughts are funny and some are downright scary. My hubby, for instance, is used to being asked if he sleeps with one eye open. Yeah. He is.

Have you always loved reading other people's writing but thought you couldn't write? Afraid the "journalism police" would kick in your front door and drag you off to jail? I was. Think you're too old? I did.

If you have a story to tell, then tell it. Then find a good critique group and let them help you get it ready to publish. Then send it out. Don't be afraid. You didn't get to be this age by being timid, did you? So take time out of that whizzing cart and write. And please, watch out for me when you're racing around in the store. I'm not as fast as I used to be. Jumping to safety on a spinning clothing rack can be difficult at this time of my life.

And if you'd rather stick to reading stories than writing them, please DO keep on reading. We writers NEED you.

As spring is sprunging into your area, I trust you are forging on, blooming in spite of damage the winter around you did to your psyche? Whatever your age or situation in life, don't let yourself be held in place by new vines shooting out from the old, ever wrapping themselves around you, paralyzing you in place. Just a few thoughts, about spring and about writing, or perhaps not writing.

May I just add that the daffodils were an extremely welcome sight this year, after the difficult winter we had? Hubby has pretty much cleaned up all the downed trees and limbs out back, and we can finally see our little sitting area where a couple of benches are located near the creek. We do, however, both need to learn our physical limits. We dug up and moved five VERY LARGE hostas to a better area last week, dividing them so they will spread out. And I dug up a few tiger lillys that were down near the creek where no one could see and/or enjoy them except the rabbits and deer and re-planted them up near the bench area so we can enjoy them. And, yes, I left plenty for the rabbits and deer. But by the time we were done relocating these plants, it was all I could do to get up three steps, into the house. The spirit is still willing, but the flesh is mighty weak. Whew. Wonder how one of those motorized shopping carts would work in our back yard? I'll get back to you on that. I hope.

Happy spring, everyone. Hope it's sprung where you are. Anyone seen the hummers yet?


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Your post is very apt for me, Lonnie. I've just written my protagonist into a situation where he has to play paintball, and I plan to troll my local MWA and SinC chapters for fellow suckers, er, researchers. Paintball, anyone? I wonder if they give a discount to senior citizens?

~ Mama~ said...

Hi Lonnie, This was a great post. I laughed all the way through and looked for more. Actually, this was the first thing I read this morning and it set up my day nicely. Thanks.

~ Dianne

caryn said...

Over on the cozy chicks blog a few days ago one of the authors (Kate Collins I think) blogged on things she's done in the name of "research." I think paintball would qualify-suit up Liz!
The Bradford ears aropund here are in full bloom and daffadils are everywhere. The hydranges are starting to leaf out, the peopies are up etc and....we may get a couple of inches of snow this weekend!

Anonymous said...

It scares the bleep out of my that I have over fifty years of memories, and that more and more of my statements begin with "I remember..." But I fight back: I've got a sixty-something romance simmering in one series, and I just created an octogenarian killer. So there. I'm fighting back.

Lonnie, you left out the last part of that lovely poem:

"Some say the bird is on the wing.
But that's absurd--the wing is on the bird!"

Lonnie Cruse said...

Caryn and all,

Snow??? Eeeek!

Shiela, thanks for the rest of the poem, I'll pass it on to Sandy. I bet she's still saying it every spring to anyone who will listen.


Julia Buckley said...

I have seen some robins, and some tulips are nosing out of the dirt. I look at my yard, though, and see all the work I need to do. I hope that doesn't mean I'm a pessimist.

But I do love spring and all the flowers that come with it--and I enjoyed your friend's poem. :)

Sandra Parshall said...

Let's clarify -- I'm not *that* Sandy, however I might wish I'd known Lonnie when we were both young!

We've got robins all over the place here in Northern Virginia -- great big flocks of them covering yards and fields. Magnolia trees, plum trees, our neighbors' gorgeous weeping cherry, Bradford pears -- lots of things are blooming or budding. Yet we're still seeing blizzards and disastrous floods on the news, so spring is not a delight for everyone. I hope that better weather will come soon to every part of the country. Spring is my favorite season, even if it does make me sneeze.