Spring is an enchanted season: buds just waiting to burst, chilly mornings that give way to gentle, warm afternoons, limbs that were brown and bare a minute ago suddenly sport a tinge of green. It is all so expectant and exciting. Kind of like the orchestra pit tuning up before a big musical.
I’ve been working away on my second novel and I’m at a point that the newness and the anything-is-possible excitement feeling has faded away. Now I find myself questioning just about everything: Is the voice is right? Should I switch to third person? Are the different perspectives working? I’m far enough in that it would be painful to start again, but not so far along that I have the momentum behind me to charge ahead.
Yesterday, I was pondering whether to start afresh or stay on course as I stared out the window at our backyard, just beginning to show the signs of Spring. My deep literary thoughts kept being interrupted by a very industrious robin going back and forth. I finally got up to investigate and saw that the little bird was busy building a nest in our patio umbrella. It’s a great place, really, to build a nest. It is protected from rain and the narrow pole is a good deterrent to any predators. But it is our patio table and we kind of like to use it as the weather gets nicer. I can’t see having a bird family dining with us being the most appetizing of situations. So, in that moment, I had another decision: do I let the robin do its thing and build away or stop this before it goes too far?
I should point out that I have a soft-spot for bird’s nests. There is a complex and yet simple beauty about their design and the vulnerable, needy creatures they protect. I would never think of destroying a nest that was built or–gasp–one that contained eggs. But there was still time. Still time to let the robin make other, more permanent plans.
(Wait! I see a metaphor coming!)
The process of building a nest is not so very different from building a story. It requires the right location, a strong foundation and layers and layers of supporting material. You do your best to scout the right place and then you just have to go all in.
So, I’ve decided to let it be. Obviously, something in that robin’s instinct told her that our patio umbrella was just the right spot to start a family. Why should I argue with nature? And maybe I should trust my instinct as a writer and keep going with my current work-in-progress. Too much questioning kind of takes the beauty out of the process.