How a Harvest of Juicy Plums Is
Like a Dormant Short Story

And they were even better than they look

 Yeah, and they tasted even better than they looked

There is something about beginnings and endings that makes me pull out my wise sage hat. Nope, I’m not going to (at least immediately) discuss how to begin and end a story, because sages ever so much wiser than me have blithered on that more persuasively than I ever will. (By the way, I’ve always found “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure,” from Camus’ The Stranger a beginning that ropes me in.)

No, what spurred these Alpha and Omega stirrings are those plump purple fruits showing off their still-life stylings in the bowl above; those are the last plums from a bumper crop off our old plum tree. I’ve written about this tree before: it looks like a craggy ancient, the gnarled whippy branches and scarred trunk. What’s amazing to me is that this year’s fruit was so fat and full, when that trunk in question is pretty much bass-thumping hollow. Actually, what truly amazes me is that the tree is still alive, much less producing.

And more amazement yet: last year’s harvest was greatly less than the past’s, fruit more scattered, though still good. But it seemed a telling sign that the twisted tree didn’t have much fire left. I thought that it was clear that my old pal was whispering from its deathbed, that this would be the season it transformed to a once-tree, a thing whose fruits were cherished in memory, not in mouth.

No. No, with gusto.

Undying Tree Is a Story Seed

Here’s the part where I get all writerly and such: I’ve been mulling over writing a certain short story for a couple of years. The premise is dark and fascinating, but I just didn’t have a way in. I couldn’t “hear” the point-of-view the story should be told from, didn’t have an footing for an opening. So, I figured that was a fertile idea that had withered and died.

But then, Zeus or Buddha or Hunter Thompson decided to throw a random bolt at me. A couple of days ago, the idea for the story rose up again, and I quickly sketched out an opening setting for the story, the main point-of-view character, and some plot points. Why now, after mulling and dropping it for two years? Why?

Well, it’s like the plums. I’m just going to take it as an act of grace. I have no idea what that tree will do next year—maybe it will have avocados. But I’m grateful for the harvest, of both those juicy plums and the juicy frame of that story.

Now I just have to write. Stories just don’t blossom without words.

2 thoughts on “How a Harvest of Juicy Plums Is
Like a Dormant Short Story

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