The Seedling’s Journey
Posted by Dezra Despain
I thought it might be fun to show the process I went through when composing my seedling metaphor. I keep notecards beside my comfy chair at home for those instant, elusive ideas that need capturing. The original idea that flowed onto the notecard was:
nourished by the warm blanket of earth, the seedling shudders and sheds its protective shell
she uncurls through earth mother’s embrace to face the warmth of the sun
her roots grow deep in her beginnings
My first change was to personify the seedling by making it a “her,” thereby subtly suggesting that this is not about a literal seed. My second change was to add “mother” in the first stanza. I liked how it mirrored “earth mother’s” in the second stanza. A little later I realized that “nourish” and “blanket” are mixed metaphors. Do I want to keep the nourish metaphor or the blanket metaphor? Even though my current interest is in the culinary arts, I decided upon blanket because it went with the metaphor of “waking up,” which is what this felt like to me.
With that decided, I searched for a word that felt like it wrapped me up in a blanket, all warm and cozy. I liked how enfold sounded. I played around with using folded vs enfolded and decided that folded had nourishing connotations and I wasn’t going with nourishing.
I removed “and” and replaced it with “then.” The sense is more abrupt and I wanted to imply that the shudder caused the shedding. I also loved the softness of the alliteration…sh…. sh…. sh…………(she’s waking up).
The final consideration came when I decided it was too wordy. Even though I like the mirror effect of mother-earth earth-mother, I needed a stronger statement. When I took out the extraneous words in the second stanza, I knew I had it exactly where I wanted it. She uncurls to face the sun…. This indicates that she’s turning towards something bright. But it also indicates that she’s squaring off with the sun. She’s in charge.
It was nearly a two-day process looking for the right words and syntax. Writing is not easy. But it is nourishing.