Bloom where you’re planted…or, heck, why bother waiting?




I often despise feel-good motivational quotes. Because they usually make me feel bad. “Hang in there, kitten.” “Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll still end up among the stars.”* “There are no stupid questions.”** So often, motivational quotes seem to put the onus on ME for being unmotivated. Like I need the reminder!

But one I don’t much mind is “Bloom where you’re planted.” Sure, it has a sort of dismissive tone (which is probably why I like it) but the quote captures a basic truth that most seeds don’t get a lot of say in where they land. Perhaps they merely plummet from their seed pods. Or maybe they take a wild and wayward ride on the wind. Or maybe they get et and shet by a hungry bird. There are some manipulations the seeds might attempt to steer their destiny, but for the most part, their fate is completely out of their little green thumbs.

And yet they do their durndest to thrive.

As a gardener, I’m often astounded by the persistence of the blackberry busting through the fence (and through the thumb of my glove, ouch), the borage flourishing in the lava rock pebbles, the strawberries blossoming in November. Yes, right this very moment I have strawberries with tiny white fruits. Crazy.

I’m in the middle of a story right now that has me between a rock and a hard place. But my feather grass does quite fine in between the slabs of the driveway concrete, so that’ll be my motivation. I guess we have to take our inspiration where we find it — whether it’s kittens or moons — just like the seeds bloom where they are planted.

Or maybe I’ll just find consolation in ripping this story out by the roots and composting it! That’s what you get for not blooming quicker.

Do you have a favorite motivation quote that you turn to in times of trouble? Please share in comments.

* Not only does that quote blithely excuse some sort of probably catastrophic power failure, it’s wrong. There are no stars between here and the moon. Gah.

** Okay, that one’s not technically a motivational quote, but just to be clear, there are stupid questions. Just like there are stupid motivational quotes.



Top photo: Poppy seeds sprouting in place.

Bottom photo: Monster Girl in the summer garden. Ah, summer…

On the Hunt

Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Revisions read-throughs
Mood:  Critical

We adopted our current dog, Talullah, as a puppy, and you know those cute puppy videos you see on YouTube? Yeah, we never got any of those.

From the very beginning, she was an absolute monster. Hence her nickname, Monster Girl. She was a biter, a runner, a not-listening-to-anything-you-sayer. She fought the leash. She fought bedtime. She fought other puppies. She was the worst puppy in puppy school. For months, she made me swear and/or cry on a daily basis.

What made the situation particularly bad was that our previous dog, Hannah, was The World’s Best Dog ™ so in comparison Talullah suffered. Not as much as she made us suffer, of course.

While reading a gazillion dog manuals — from positive-only reinforcement to shock collars, Cesar Milan psychology to Schutzhund training — I stumbled across a concept used with hunting dogs. The trainer suggested there are hard/soft dogs and fast/slow dogs that (and I’m paraphrasing a bit here) combine into four dog learning styles: hard-fast dogs and hard-slow dogs, soft-fast dogs and soft-slow dogs. Any of those dogs could become good hunters, but each require a different training style.

Something clicked for me. (See? I too can be clicker trained.) Hannah had been a soft-fast dog. She was incredibly attentive and interested in pleasing, and quick to pick up on anything we wanted. She made us think we were awesome dog owners because she was so easy.

Talullah is a hard-slow dog. Corrections that would have crushed a soft dog like Hannah (scowls made Hannah slink away, even scowls not directed at her) didn’t make a dent on Talullah. And though both dogs would set similar get-to-the-tennis-ball racing speeds, Hannah was quicker to master a task. Which is not to say that Talullah is a dumb dog, but she likes to work through problems herself, given the opportunity. It was me that was dumb!

Once I realized that T had her own style — a style completely opposite from her predecessor — we started making progress. T was a slower learner, but we could also work a little longer, where Hannah would have been bored and causing trouble in half the time. Getting through to Talullah had me and her knocking heads a few times, but as a hard dog, she doesn’t give up, and neither did I.

So, when it comes to hunting down your own dreams, what kind of dog are you?

I had a soft-slow dog writer friend. Harsh critiques could shut her down for weeks, and she couldn’t stand to have other people mess with her words on the page. She wanted feedback, but it had to be presented in a certain way, and she wanted to apply the feedback herself. Once she’d made her needs clear, our critique group was fine, but we had a few rough sessions before we learned our styles.

I have a hard-fast dog writing style. Given too long a line, I will run to the end and choke myself. Gentle criticism like “you might want to think about” or “have you considered” won’t stop me; I need to hear feedback like I just received recently: “You can’t do this because you are going to scare the editor.” Huh, okay then.

The trick, of course, is not just knowing what kind of dog we are, but getting other people to give us what we need to thrive. You can’t always get people to play along, so sometimes it helps to reimagine them yourself .

For example, I always take apart the revision letters my editor sends me and make it what I need it to be. My editor is great about giving me praise, but I’m a hard-fast dog 🙂 A pat on the head is fabulous, no doubt, but I do my best with quick, firm directions. I read the praise, bask in the glow a moment… and then I delete it, so all I have left are the problems that need action steps. I am happy when I have a nice, stark list without warm fuzzies getting in the way.

Whatever dreams we’re after, it helps to know ourselves first. I think we can all be good hunters once we know what we need to succeed.

What kind of dog are you? Do you have tricks to make the world give you the treats you need?

I am a charcter in my own life story

Crossposted from
Currently working on: 100 things at once
Mood: Scattered

When writers learn about creating characters, one of the first techniques we’re taught is to assign each character a story goal, something the character desperately wants and must pursue through the course of the story. Since many of us use the start of the new year to assign ourselves some resolutions, I think we can all relate.

Next, writers are told to figure out why the character wants to reach the story goal. What is the character’s motivation?


This is where I, as the (ostensibly) lead character in my own life, get a little murky.

Why do I write?

If I do one thing this year, I want to figure out the answer to that question. See, this year is a turning point (my fellow writers will recognize that term too, and probably wince) in my writing life, and it’s time I clarified my motivation.

Why is motivation important to characters? In a story, strong motivation keeps the poor, beleaguered character on task no matter what rocks we mean writers throw at them. Wimpy motivation lets the character off the hook and he slinks home to his easy chair, never to adventure again. Booooring!

In real life… Well, in real life, I secretly do want the easy chair with a fuzzy blanket and fuzzier socks, BUT I know that strong motivation is really what will keep me reaching for my goals.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”
– Zig Ziglar

More than a year ago, I attended a writing workshop where the speaker asked us to determine our own personal reason for writing. Other than fame and fortune. (Cue laugh track.) Everyone diligently bent their heads to their papers and scratched away. I cheated off the writer next to me.

Because I’m not sure of my motivation. I asked other writers afterward what they wrote. They had great answers:

  • I write for free therapy.
  • I write because I have to write.
  • I write so I don’t have to get a job where I wear pants.
  • I write to get the strange voices out of my head. (See reason #1.)
  • I write because I love to write.

Great as these answers are, they don’t really resonate with me. (Although I’d like to not need a job where I have to wear pants.) So I never answered the question for myself, never found the motivation that rings me like a bell. But this year, I think I’m going to be forced to figure it out.

I hope it’s a good answer.

So do you have parts of your life you don’t look at too closely? Are you happier that way, or do you want to explore those hidden depths? How many people do you think get eaten by the dragons in their hidden depths?