There’s something about spring that causes us to want to clean up and start fresh. We’re preparing for warmer weather, more time out-of-doors in the sunshine, planting pretty things that will bring us a stunning pallet of color and scent. Spring is a time for new beginnings.
Cleaning clutter out of our homes just goes with the season, but it’s also a time, for me, to clean the clutter out of my writing. That short story I never finished that is completely dated, that poem that’s been in a file for twenty years that has no hope of being published, maybe I’ll archive them, but I also might decide it’s time to let them go to make room for new and fresher creative endeavors.
If I’m in the middle of writing a book, I may decide that as much as I love a paragraph, description or prologue, I must take the emotion out of it and discard them if they no longer make sense in the context of the story. It’s awfully hard to do, just as was giving away that dress I haven’t worn for thirty years but doing so opens the closet in my mind for new ideas, new words and new thoughts that might make the book even better.
I began writing Murder in the Cemetery this past winter, but as I got closer to spring, I found I was changing much of the story to reflect the upcoming season. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing mysteries that take place during cold, creepy winter nights. Death and ice seem to go hand in hand in mysteries.
Now the book opens at the beginning of spring, when the snow has melted, the birds are nesting, and the posies are peeking their heads up from the thawing earth. All the characters are happy and relieved they’ve survived the tough winter that always occurs up here on Lake Ontario, and the juxtaposition of a death that happens just as the flowers are beginning to bloom made sense to me. Tired myself of snow, dull and grey, I wanted to bring some sunshine and energy into the book. I sucked it up, got rid of icy winter imagery and rewrote.
So yes, spring for me is a time to declutter: my house, my closets and even my writing. Tough as it sometimes is, getting rid of what doesn’t work any longer actually has simplified my life and made the journey that much easier.