“I don’t know what to write about!” A common lament, especially among new writers. Recently a woman said that very thing to me, then added: “Everything worth saying has already been said.”
No, it hasn’t. Certainly not the way you can say it.
It brings to mind that scourge of neighbors’ late summer gardens, the giant squash. My neighbor was just over here trying to foist a hugely overgrown zucchini off on me. Her garden was overrun, she pleaded, and she couldn’t bring herself to waste them. It was always good to have a few in reserve, she insisted. Finally, she begged, Please, wouldn’t I take one? Or perhaps five?
I never plant zucchini in my own garden because it’s so easy to come by—on my doorstep, in the backseat of my car, in a basket at the entrance to church. My husband Dan says, “How can there be world hunger so long as people grow zucchinis in their gardens?”
I have recipes for zucchini bread, zucchini soufflé, stuffed zucchini, and a whole array of casseroles. But I just learned something new from a woman in Helena, Montana. She took one of those overgrown garden wonders and—this is the truth, folks!—used it to fight off a 200-pound black bear that dared force its way into her house. First she kicked at the bear, but that just made it madder. So she grabbed up the zucchini she had just that day brought in and bopped the bear on top of its head. That bear did exactly what I do when I see my neighbor coming up the driveway with an overgrown zucchini under her arm: It turned and ran.
Think of your ideas like overgrown zucchinis. When you think you’ve done everything possible with them, set them aside and wait for a breath-taking new approach to surprise you. Then grab up your worn-out idea and bop a bear on its head!
“In literature, as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.”