Caterpillars; Your greatest writing tools –
I started thinking about caterpillars today. It’s fall, the leaves on the maple tree we planted just a few years ago are turning crimson and gold and will soon drop to the earth and recycle.
My orange and white mums and red dahlias, the size of dinner plates, are heavy with moisture and drooping to the ground. It’s almost time to clear them out and make ready for winter. But it’s hard to cut them down when there’s even a tinge of color left. Caterpillars have done a lot of damage in my yard this year, but I know that means come spring I will have beautiful butterflies flitting about as I work.
It’s almost time for my 90 day cancer check up. I wish I was like a caterpillar and could simply shed the cancer cells like a LARVA and move on to my next stage of life; healthy, fluttering my wings and free. Did you know that caterpillars have a memory of their previous 2 lives? I like that about caterpillars they recall where they’ve been before their metamorphosis. I too, remember where I’ve been. It’s folded into me like those caterpillar cells waiting and ready to be transformed.
When I dig in my garden’s rich dark soil, and when I have to go deep inside myself to find and connect with the things that I’m ever-grateful for – which on some days is butterflies – I remember to do the same for my characters. I think of my main protagonist; what’s he thankful for today? What’s his sister grateful for? I use my own deep yearnings to live a long healthy life, to walk the beach, to hold my grandchildren, to read, to write, to make love, to drink our home madeI do. wine, to dance and to work the soil planting and sowing my beautiful, beautiful bounty. Because I ache to stay in this world longer, my characters ache with me. I turn that soil and find where they came from, like the caterpillars with their ability to remember and use that to deepen my characters. I understand yearning, planting, growing and transcending. I understand it in my life. I understand it in my writing.
Everything we go through has to do with writing, living, creating characters and breathing life into them. Dig in your soil, shed old cells and make room for the new ones. Be grateful, and use these life experiences as your greatest writing tools. I know I do.