Not sure if it was the blue skies or the whiteness of the bark, but this tree pushed me forward in my writing. It stands in a park outside Asheville and I looked up its trunk for a while, noticing how its now leafless branches fork out and reach up to the sky. From down below they seem all tangled up and yet, like a story plot, they form one single whole.
While standing there and staring up, I realized that I had to go back to the manuscript I am working on, shed all the leaves and study just the trunk, the boughs, the branches, the twigs. I did just that: strip the manuscript from all the fluff and scrutinize the bare bones. Today, I knew what it missed. Not the trunk that forms the storyline, not the boughs that reach out to the sky and layer the plot, not the branches or the twigs that fork out and make the subplots. What my story missed was a root. My mentor Ellen Hopkins had already pointed that out, but I failed to see what she meant. Now I do. One more chapter, that is all it needs. I will push it out tonight, in the confidence that it will root my story firmly to the ground.