Old Favorite: Taming an Overgrown Idea

 I got this same question twice last week and again this morning.  So, it being zuchini season and all, I decided it was time to rerun this post:


“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, actully it has not. 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 squash 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 is 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 newspaper report about 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 only 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.”

Andre Maurois



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8 responses to “Old Favorite: Taming an Overgrown Idea

  1. I may not have a zucchini, but I can bop a bear over its head anytime with a story or two of mine! Thanks for the funny, and informative, post.

  2. Yes, you surely can. I have heard you do it!
    Write on, my dear.

  3. Jeanette

    I am laughing my head off right now. At this very moment, I have zucchini bread in the oven, made with a beautiful squash from a friend’s garden. The other night, I breaded one from the same friend and served it with homemade ranch dressing. (Barbecue sauce for Nathan–I’ve discovered that I can get him to eat just about anything if I set a bottle of BBQ sauce beside his plate.) I don’t grow zucchini in my garden either. I could say it’s because Susan keeps me stocked up all season long but the truth is, aside from herbs, which I grow very well and actually use a lot of, I stink at gardening. I blame it on the horrible soil in Nevada.

    Susan and her husband always pick theirs before they grow big enough to use as murder weapons.

  4. Hmmmm… I can almost smell the fragrance of your house! I’ll have to agree with Susan. Pick ’em before they grow into murder weapons!

  5. Funny. Reminds me of our gardening days in Salem when our kids were little. Half an acre–I was seriously demented in those days and, yes, we did foist huge zucchinis on unsuspecting friends.

  6. Half an acre! Impressive. I actually like zucchinis–especially free ones–as long as they haven’t reached weapon size.

  7. New things are found through juxtapositions – ones which are uniquely yours. Putting together the truly interesting connections. (From the earlier comments you’d think this is a gardening, blog did someone miss the point? 😉

    • You are right, of course. I think others did get the point, but the connection point got their gardening juices flowing. Maybe the result will be both rejuvenated writing ideas and more interesting squash ideas!

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