Le Notre has come to visit again. I am so grateful, for his sternness comforts me as I grapple with the middle of the novel whose ending is still vague. Prune here, he announces. Plant there. Lift and carry and work. It’s physical labor, and I need it. October is a grace month in Houston, when humidity lifts and temperatures drop.
I plant violets, not the proud African ones of my girlhood, with their large heart-shaped leaves and deep purple faces, but Australian ones, the only ones I can find, with smaller, less deep emerald leaves and faces that show both white and purple. I love violets, have tried to start them any number of times in my shady yard, which they should love, without success. Le Notre points to where he thinks they might thrive. If you water, he sniffs. His face is lined with age and knowledge and Louis XIV‘s confidence in him. He’s fashionable for his time, a wig, a satin coat, shoes with buckles, a long, long staff like the one Lully used to direct the king’s orchestra. I like this stern taskmaster who tells me what to do in the garden and bears with no excuses.
I know my garden is symbolic of something, as is my choice of Le Notre as its muse, but I don’t want to probe the symbolism. There are violets to plant. There’s a woman in the novel with a heart-shaped face, who was called a shy violet by history, when it bothered with her at all. She was scorned because she wasn’t ambitious. She turned to God in her pain. Perhaps I plant for her.
Posted in Before Versailles, books, character, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, Karleen Koen, life, Now Face to Face, writing
Tagged "Louis XIV", "Louise de la Valliere", creativity, gardening, Karleen Koen writing, Le Notre, Lully, writing and gardening
The garden is keeping me sane right now while I struggle with the middle of this book. What I’m really struggling with is not knowing. I have a vague plot, but nothing precise because the way I write, character has to lead to the next action. So I have to feel right in the character before I feel right in the action. Whine. Whine. Wine. Please.
I feel like the carpenter bees that love the cedar of my garage. They drill precise holes and burrow in and out to forage. But the return is never easy. They hover clumsily before the hole they’ve made, can float for hours before they enter. They remind me of landing craft whose pilot can’t make a decision.
So I can’t get in my hole of a story again easily once I leave it. To distract myself from the fear that this time I may not pull a novel together, I garden. I’m in the clean up, prune, unglamorous stage. Sweating. Hauling. But I have focus and a plan. I can see what needs to be done, and I do it. Done. Finished. Finito. New task. Next, please. Straightforward. Right there in front of me. Unmistakeable.
If I look back over this blog, I see my whines about my last novel, Before Versailles. As the Duchess always says, Nothing changes and everything does.
Posted in Before Versailles, books, character, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, fiction, George I, historical fiction, history, Houston, inspiration, Karleen Koen, life, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, love, Now Face to Face, romance, romance writing, story, story and character, story and theme, story and writing, theme, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged "Louis XIV", carpenter bees, gardening, inspiration, lack of inspiration, nature, rough drafts, the Dutch Wars, writing, writing is hard, writing process
Houston springs are tender. There’s just no other word for them. Soft days and soft nights. Coming brutal humidity and heat remain last summer’s dream. I think I become emotional and tender myself because I know what’s around the corner. But for now, it’s spring. Pink tulip trees and redbuds have been the first to announce blooming time. The sweet color of their blossoms is impossible to describe: amethyst in which rose had been swirled. Azaleas and bridal wreath follow. Trees bud and leaf, and in a month Houston will be a cloud of green from the sky. Here’s what Houston’s soft spring does to me:
gardeners are busybodies
always peering out their windows
at the roses to demand:
have they bloomed yet?
cream edged in coral
I steal indescriminately
my neighbor’s roses
open tight buds to reveal
deep creamy faces
what do butterflies
think when they race? does it
matter who wins?
Posted in Before Versailles, creativity, Dark Angels, Houston, Karleen Koen, life, Now Face to Face, theme, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged gardening, haiku, Houston, Karleen Koen, spring, what spring does to me, writing, writing haiku for fun