First, an brief explanation of the process of deadheading:
with a very sharp secateur, you snip away the dead parts of plants so that the plant no longer pumps energy into the dead area.
This somewhat similar to ‘phantom limb’ sensation.
Since my secateur is buried in storage boxes awaiting the acquisition of a real garden, a pair of scissors or sharp knife will have to do. When I did have a garden, I had secateurs and loppers and hedgers. Not to mention rakes, forks and shovels, trowels and pitch forks. Sigh.
Alas, empty plastic soup containers and damaged tablespoons serve those purposes these days.
As you saw from one of my earlier articles, some of my wildflowers aren’t thriving. Rather than allow them to suffer and sap energy from those that are, whether part of the same plant or in close quarters, it’s best to pluck, snip and sever so the negative energy doesn’t influence others.
(A bit tongue in cheek for that analysis but you will see where I’m going with this later.)
I am what Ian McEwan once termed an ‘organic’ writer. That doesn’t mean I only use organically produced paper. It’s a writing process, sometimes called a ‘pantser’. It is the only way I can write. An idea comes to me and I follow it to its natural conclusion, one word, one scene, one character at a time.
For instance, my most recent publication, the novel-by-installment, Nights Before, began life as a word on the page. Another followed. A character appeared and another. Before long, I had a story I wanted to write. 64K+ words later, I had a novel, published over the stretch of a year. Every installment was a surprise to me and pure pleasure.
More than any other reason, writing for my own pleasure is paramount. The same holds for gardening or any of the other pursuits to which I offer my time. If I’m not happy, the book doesn’t happen.
There is one drawback. Every word and scene doesn’t rate publication. And every one is a reason that saps energy from the body of the story in the same way that a dead flower drains energy from the plant. It is natural for flora to make every effort to survive. A dead part draws the attention of the plant to surge energy into the dead area to revive it.
It is natural for the writer to pour energy into making a dead scene work. In the words of one of my college professors, “Kill your darlings.” Deadhead.
Sometimes, I get carried away with tangents: a perfect example of energy wasted. Not to mention paper and ink. But that is the allure of the organic, the narcotic of writing. The words flow and you go with it. The next best thing to the sweet sensation of writing anything that comes into your head, is the pleasure of getting rid of the dead weight of excess. Fortunately, shredding and recycling eliminates the guilt of wasting paper.
Once I have finished a story, the process of shredding the manuscript is a ritual finalizing its publication. Along with the shredding goes all of the false steps, the dead ends and the tangents. With that brutal cut, I am free to create anew, without reference to material that dragged my writing efforts offtrack, rejuvenated in the same way that flowering plants are boosted by the loss of spent blossoms.
I’m wondering if the same works for orchids.