Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Requirements by Angie Arndt

Two of my orchids, blooming last winter.
So many people are afraid of orchids because they have certain requirements to thrive. The temperature can’t get below 69 degrees. They do best in a South-facing window. They should be watered every ten days and fertilized every twenty days.

Even moth orchids have a reputation for being picky and they're the easiest to grow. So it amazes me that I have six living (okay, five-and-a-half because one is half-dead) Phalaenopsis orchids. Of those, four are blooming. And I love them when they bloom, because I think they are exquisite. The bonus is that the blooms last a full two to three months with proper care. But here's a secret you'll never read in an orchid magazine: if your plants won't bloom, don't water them. Let them dry out, almost to the point of dying, and they will almost certainly send up a bloom stalk as a survival response.

Just like orchids, I have my requirements to write.
  1. I need to have quiet. 
  2. Having my Writer mug (given to me by fellow Seriously Write host, Dora Hiers) full of my favorite coffee beside my chair helps.
  3. So does having my notebook full of bits and snatches of conversation and ideas written in that obsolete font called cursive.
  4. The temperature has to be just right -- not too cold or too hot.
  5. I'm not sure if I've shared this lately, but I'm chronically ill and most of the conditions involve some level of pain. Getting the right balance of medications that dull the pain but not my mind is another requirement.
If all those requirements are met, I may be able to write.

Last week I had a migraine that lasted three days and during that time I was snippy with my recently retired hubby (see requirement #1 above). In fact, I could fulfill none of my writing requirements during those three days. So as I was feeling sorry for myself, I poked my lip out and started writing anyway. A couple of days later, I took a look at the scene I'd written and it actually worked. Granted, it needed a lot of editing, but it was a good start.

So what's the real reason I grow orchids? Because they're a perfect example of grace – unmerited favor. They're the one thing in my house that's beautiful and simple. So if beds are unmade, the dishes dirty, or the floor in covered in dust wolves that have devoured the dust bunnies, those silly orchids send up a bloom stalk. Even when I’ve been neglectful, they'll bloom.

I get the same feeling when I’m writing and get fresh inspiration. I know it’s not of my doing, especially when I look back on it later and think, “when did I write that?” But one thing I’ve noticed is that those inspired sessions are more likely to happen when I get down on my knees – literally – before I start to write. That's the only true requirement I have to write.

What do you need before you feel you can write? Do you have any routines that help you? I'd love to hear about them. 

Just leave a comment below. I'll moderate and answer as fast as I can. 

Angie Arndt was a corporate trainer before health issues sidelined her. These days she’s active in her local church, ACFW and as a regular Weekly Spark contributor on MyBookTherapy. She’s a team member of Seriously Write and her personal blog, Joy on the Back Roads.

Angie is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency and is currently working on a series of mystery novels set in small Southern towns. She and her husband live in the middle of a big wood outside a small town in South Carolina.


  1. Beautiful orchid, Angie! And I'm so glad you like your writers mug. <3
    I'm with you. I prefer routine AND quiet to write, but lately both seem hard to come by. I can't imagine writing with a migraine or chronic illness, Angie. You're amazing!

    1. I do love my mug! And it came at just the right time to reaffirm that I was a writer because it is hard to write with a chronic illness. I couldn't do what little I can without the help of my friends.

  2. I've never been able to grow orchids. I'm an African Violet kinda gal, but I appreciate those growing tips, Angie. I might have to try it again sometime. :)

    I need quiet and something in my writer cup, too. I need a thesaurus and the internet for researching little tidbits that hang me up.

    1. I used to grow African violets too - love them! But when we moved to our new house, they all died and I couldn't get any more to live. I guess it's a light issue?

      Agreed! All of the above are definite requirements!

      Thanks so much, Sandy!

  3. I need a quiet place, rest and freedom from worry to be able to concentrate. The latter two are the most difficult to come by.

    Sam Pakan

    1. Oh Sam, I know what you mean. Worry, especially, can just pull any inspiration or joy right out of my writing - or any other task for that matter.

      Thanks so much for the comment. Your encouragement means so much. It always does my heart good to hear from you.

  4. Hi Angie, oh, ick about the migraine! Glad you're on your feet again...and my sympathies LOL at a newly retired husband. Love mine to death but he gets so needy. (winking). As for orchids, I mourn the many whose death I've hastened. My thumb is so not green.

    As for writing, I need quiet, too. Right now I am restoring my writing soul so to speak, and enjoying the simple things. That said, I think I am going to go to the RWA national convention in New York this summer, to see if that is the "shot in the arm" I need. We will have to see...the dates may conflict with a, in the works family reunion in Oahu, and family always comes first.

    God bless you, my friend, and thanks for the heart-to-heart today.xo

    1. Tanya,

      I'm glad it came across that I was kidding about my hubby. He spoils me rotten and I'm thrilled to have him at home. We just have to find our "lanes" during the day.

      I'm so thrilled to hear that you're thinking about going to the RWA conference. What could be more thrilling than going to NY to attend, right? I hope you do decide to go and then have a wonderful time. Readers need to hear more from you.


  5. Interesting to hear about your requirements. I sometimes require a deadline. Putting a little heat and pressure helps me get going.

  6. Yes, exactly! Nothing like a deadline to get you going -- even if it's self-imposed. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. I'm like you, Angie. I prefer "quiet" to write. I don't understand people who can go to a busy Starbucks and work. Coffee with flavored creamer is a must. And I also don't like the room to be too warm - it makes me lethargic. I'd rather have the temp on the cool side. And then there's always the quick prayer that I shoot up to the heavens asking for help!

    I can't imagine doing all you do in the midst of dealing with health issues. You inspire me!!!

  8. I can't write in Starbucks, as much as I'd like. I'd listen to the baristas or I'd be straining to hear the whispered conversation behind me (eavesdropping)! Oh, yes! I love flavored creamer. Yum! And yes, on the temperature, too. But if it gets too cold, I'd snuggle up in a blanket and go to sleep!

    Oh, I don't do nearly as much as I wish I could. I really regret the time I have to spend in bed because I can't move. So aggravating!

    And you encourage me so much, Dawn! That is truly your gift, sweet friend.

    Big hugs!

  9. I love those orchids too. Every time we go to COSTCO we buy one. I like not having to water them so much. But now I know why one I'd been ignoring just put out a new arm of buds. Thanks.

    I need quiet. Although sometimes I can figure out things better when I talk to myself. I have a wonderful retired husband. He not only leaves me alone on my five workdays but does the laundry, the grocery shopping, and the vacuuming so I can write. (Like I'd do those things if he didn't.) No one can have him, though. until I go on to glory. I need him for writing fodder. My hero.


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