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.