The youngest kids were finally asleep. After diaper changes, trips to the potty, and the brushing of three little sets of teeth, they went down. It went smoother today than usual, which was a nice change for how hectic today was. Maybe it’s eight weeks of being homebound, mixed with an inexcusable amount of sass from the teenager who misses her boyfriend, but this quarantine is driving us batty.

If there was ever a time in the past when I wished we could all be home all day all the time, that bubble has burst. I dearly love my family, more than there are words to express it. I am starting to believe that, while we do have a strong family and we cherish the time we are together, we are all very much individuals, and ones who want to have our own projects and adventures. With everyone together all the time these days, we are hopeful for a break from this new normal.

So the kids are asleep. The oldest has been tucked in by mama, which is funny because she exudes the attitude typical of a teenage girl, but still wants to be tucked in at night as we did when she was little. My next two daughters share a room, and they should be brushing their teeth right now before turning on their audiobook. Each night, we let them pick something from our audible library. Usually it’s one of the Harry Potter books. I’m not a fan, but my wife loves the writings of J.K. Rowling.

I sat outside during these happenings in my home, sipping a fresh cup of coffee in my wicker chair. My eyes closed as a refreshing breeze skipped across the porch. The smell of cut grass and running sprinklers rode high on the invisible stampede that passed as quickly as it arrived.

My attention fell onto a small, plastic pot that looks like an old wooden barrel. There, dancing in the breeze, were the two remaining bean plants that I’d transplanted a few weeks before. There had been four, but two didn’t make it. They don’t seem to have grown much lately, so they may have to go, too.

I have cheap mini greenhouses scattered throughout the house, some in the back even. I get some sprouts, but most don’t make it. The flowers I’d helped my girls’ plants died a couple of weeks ago after the pots were taken up to their rooms so they could “care” for them. I think they overwatered them. I’m glad it was a plant and not a goldfish.

I chuckled at the thought that my writing was the same way. These ideas emerge from the greenhouse of my mind, delicate, and if not immediately written down then they suffer the same fate as the flowers. Or the beans. The ideas I mange to nurture get taller as their roots grow deeper, taking up more and more space on my hard drive. Then there’s a plateau, ever more frustrating as the plots I’ve seeded lead to dead ends. I try to stabilize the idea by jabbing sticks into the ground, sometimes tying them to the plants with twine. Or a plot twist.

It inevitably happens though. The leaves become discolored, requiring research to determine how to fix the character flaws, or even the arc. It’s not long after that moment when I just sit and stare at the plant while taking breaks on the porch. The dried up ideas I planted will stay there, like a corpse that you want to remove but don’t want to touch. Weeks go by and the plot is still there, holding the crunchy remains of the original idea. I don’t want to throw the plant out because doing so internally admits that I’ve externally failed. The story is discarded and lands somewhere in the abyss of my OneDrive.

Not all my plants die. Some of them even get published! Can you believe I get paid to write words? I harvest some of my plants and store them here on my blog. Some people enjoy partaking of the crop with me. But sometimes, even weekly, I get paid to tend someone else’s plants. I get to see what they’re growing and add to their harvest my labor of love. My love for writing and words.

My wordpress friend, Rolando Andres Ramos, had a quote on his page today that was fun to think about. He posted:

The real art is not to come up with extraordinary clever words but to make ordinary simple words to extraordinary things. To use language that we all use and to make amazing things occur. — Graham Swift

The words we use are amazing. They are imbued with the power to create or destroy. To expose truth or to deceive. To love or to hate. How we use our words is our right to determine, but their use can either extend our lives, or end them abruptly. Some fools use words in a flurry, for they think they will appear relevant and important. Others use words sparingly, but when spoken they are oft remembered and quoted for centuries after their utterance.

As these simple words can be connected to form a sentence that can fill a man’s heart, so can these simple beans form a meal to satisfy his hunger. In my hands, the cooked beans will sustain me until the next morning. In the hands of a master chef, they will be a meal to remember. So, too, says the quote from my friend. My words come together and create stories that may net a modest income. The same words from the mouth and mind of a master story teller, those words never die. They are immortalized in song and film, to be retold for generations. Those. Same. Words.

I drain the last swig of coffee and think, “I wonder if my gardening will improve as my writing improves.”