While sitting on a tractor driving back and forth raking the windrows, my mind wandered to writing and how putting up hay is a lot like writing a book. (Metaphor for you, Alice)
When growing and putting up hay you first watch the field sprout in the spring, add water, and watch it flourish under the spring and summer sun. With a story you start with an idea and feed it with “what ifs” and characters and arcs.
Then you cut the hay in neat rows. Your story starts setting up in your head or on a graph or chart or note cards. Next you rake the hay, flipping it to make sure it all gets dry before you bale. With your story you toss around ideas, characters, and plots making the story grow and take shape.
After raking, you bale the hay in neat little bundles. In writing, you put your thoughts and ideas down on the paper sometimes stringing them out in a line and some times dumping one haphazardly to the side wondering if it may not be right or just taking a wrong turn in your story and dropping ideas into the mix that might not make it into the story at all. Those are the bales that land wrong and won’t go up the bale wagon without you getting off and straightening the bale so it will load properly. Picking up the bales and stacking them in neat stacks are your scenes coming together and making each chapter. As those stacks of bales and chapters are put together in a long row, the hay stack and book come together in a nice neat bundle.
Oops, one stack fell. The bales didn’t mesh right, which means hand stacking. What about your book/story? If it falls apart somewhere you need to go back in and reorganize and reestablish where you really wanted to go with the story.
And then there are the edits- the clean up. Once all the bales are out of the field, you go through with the rake and sweep the loose hay together, then hop on the baler and bale up the last little bits to make the field spiffy and add to your hay stack.
Not only did raking hay the other night help me realize I had some loose ends to tie up in Outlaw in Petticoats and gave me a scene to enhance my ending- but it showed me that everything in life has a method and structure to it and everything I see- equates to writing in some way or another for me.
What in your life reminds you of the writing process?