Last week a mini-disaster helped free the fig tree in my backyard. My newly installed waterline for the fridge’s ice maker snapped and Niagara Falls was happening under my house. I discovered it just as I was leaving to run errands. Thirty seconds of panic, a sprint to the water shut-off valve, and then I called the plumber. While waiting, I decided to clear my fig tree of the lovely strangler vine with its musky honey and grass-scented white blossoms.
The plumber was on a job out of town, but promised to get to me by noon or shortly thereafter. Brooding about my water bill, I got my orange-handled garden clippers, the business end a scary looking pair of wickedly curved steel blades, and set about murdering the strangler vine.
I worked in fair comfort despite the heat of the day. Humidity wasn’t as high as it had been and the pecan tree cast a soothing shade over my backyard. Like Nimue’s spell on Merlin, the blossoming vine was twined about the fig, enchanting and ultimately deadly.
Sometimes an idea creeps into your story and turns into a Nimue vine (as I’ve dubbed it), sprouting pretty flowers that beckon you with the power of its spell. Like Merlin, you fall under its sorcery. The new idea takes over your novel and pretty soon you are struggling with its snaky tenacity.
When you’re writing a discovery draft, this can be a good thing, but it turns into a hell of a lot of work once you realize your novel is suffocating. Has happened to me so many times. What to do about it? Nothing while its happening, just keep writing, but once you’ve reached the end of the draft, get out the wicked editing shears and shield your ears against the cries of your written darlings.
Am I not the master of my fictional world? Yes, yes I am.