Do you need a quick and timely article for your blog or newsletter? Then start a seed list. What’s that? In this post guest writer Joan Leof, a Delaware writing coach and author of the book, Fatal If Swallowed: Reclaiming Creativity and Hope Along the Uncharted Path, explains:
Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish. – by Ovid.
Whether you are just keeping a journal or have other writing goals, it is extremely helpful to keep an ongoing SEED LIST. If you’re journaling, the list can be about “issues” you’d like to deal with — when the moment is right. All you have to do is plant the seed, even if it’s too scary to delve into now, or any time soon. The time WILL come when it feels right to tend that seed.
If you have creative writing goals, whether it is a specific project, or just the sense that something would be worth exploring, put it on your seed list.
How empowering to check off that seed from the list once you’ve tended to it!
Below are three very interesting examples of the quote above. You MUST “Let your hook always be cast,” which here means have your SEED LIST. Truly, “where you least expect it, there will be a fish.”
Years ago, when I was writing essays in hopes of publication, I started my SEED LIST. It could be a word, or a theme, or a little paragraph. I just wrote it down — and waited. The first one came with a whole piece I just had to write for catharsis. It was about my career as an inner city junior high school teacher in Philly. I let myself write it. Then it sat in a folder for a good year. Suddenly, the Philadelphia teachers were on strike. I pulled the story out and sent it to the editor of a Philadelphia weekly — sensing the story was a great hook for a major current happening in our city. SUCCESS! Not only did he accept the story, but he put it on the front page and launched my career as an essayist.
The second hook was about an Indian man I had loved whom I knew I would have to write about — some day. All I could come up with on the seed list was a lovingly crafted description of his physical appearance and essence. And that sat for quite a while as well. Suddenly, in the national news was the story of how the Sikhs in India were having to defend their Golden Temple. He was a Sikh. I pulled out that paragraph and wrote an entire essay about him, which was immediately published in the same paper! And three decades later, that same original description appeared in my memoir along with much greater elaboration of my relationship with that man.
The third hook was a fascinating study I heard about during my single years in Philly. A Princeton University survey had said that in Philly there was “…little more than half a man each for single women between the ages of 20 and 59.” “Half a man..” struck me as a great way to explore the challenges and disappointments of dating which I, and my single women friends, were having. The statistic sat. Then one day it morphed into a very long essay that was published in the same newspaper.
By now you may be saying, “Oh, she was just in the right place at the right time. Just luck.” NO, it was NOT luck. It was having my hook cast, having my SEED LIST.
Give it a try. Create a SEED LIST for your private and public writing. Don’t worry about HOW, WHEN, WHERE. JUST CREATE THE SEED LIST. That’s the excitement of the creative process. Cast the hook and be attentive to the stream. For those of you who enjoy the spiritual side of things — a co-creation of you and the universe!
Perhaps one day YOU will be sharing your blossomed seed with our salon, or sharing with the world what you grew.