Writers Write

And the Birds and the Bees and the Rocks in the Trees

While walking in the park, I noticed a strange phenomenon. Every few hundred feet, a bolder sat balanced on a tree limb. It was probably a kid prank. A dangerous one. Each branch was six feet off the ground, and close enough to the path to cause injury. It looked like that old cartoon gag, balancing a bucket of water over a door.

I looked around. No one was watching, waiting. Some were balanced on Texas persimmons, a small tree with slick bark that peels like a birch in winter. They aren’t capable of holding weight for long. A five-pound rock will split the branch over time. I felt the need to make things right. In no way was this living sculpture idea, good. So I knocked down what I could reach and mumbled under my breath.

Not long ago, I took Cherry and Coco to a book signing. Sara Pennypacker, author of Clementine, said she wrote the series about a girl, who doesn’t always have a clue, but has a lot of support from the adults in her life. She said, “I want to fix things with my writing.” By giving Clementine a good teacher and good parents, she’s able to fix a thing she sees wrong in the world. Like a writer, I appropriated her philosophy into my own world view.

I want to fix stuff, poke at it until a character has to deal with it or change. Like the rocks in the trees, I can’t leave things alone.

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