Go Figure: Musings from the Mind of Rob Wilstein
Spring is here,
Let’s give a cheer.
– From the archives of my third grade poetry class.
Thus began my poetry career, in Mrs. Kerber’s third grade class, to be continued in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades with the exact same spring poem. You will be relieved to know that my career ended there, my poetic license revoked. If there was more to the poem, I don’t remember it. Each year, when the assignment was given to write a poem about spring I would panic, but this sweet couplet saved me.
But hey, spring is here. Or will be soon. Maybe. Don’t blink, you’ll miss it. New England spring is as mercurial as the subliminal messages encrypted in movies. You sense something is happening but by the time you can acknowledge it, it’s gone. Replaced by summer heat. Our miniscule spring must be savored. All the more so because of its brevity. Revel in those few days of perfect weather, Goldilocks days of not-too-hot, not-too-cold temps. Days when I can put the top down on my convertible (so annoying to have it up all winter) and let the wind rush through my bald scalp. How’s THAT for a humblebrag?
As writers we’ve been huddled indoors, wrapped in an old sweater, living inside our stories, kept warm by the heat of our words, the lives of our characters. It’s time to emerge from the cocoon, shed the layers of scarves, gloves, fleece this and that. Disengage from the couch, the armchair, the writing desk and put our faces to the sun. The psychic layers come off too. Slip off like snakes shedding their skins. A sense of renewal overcomes us and anything is possible.
That pesky secondary character, the estranged brother you don’t know what to do with, let him get hit with a safe whilst strolling down the street. The plot device you’ve been struggling with all winter, push it even further; see what happens. Can’t quite get the voice of the burly bartender down? Maybe he’s mute. It’s spring, time for change, and you can do whatever you damn please. Kill those darlings, murder ’em and bury them deep in your hard drive, never to see the dim light of winter again.
Some of the changes will be hard, stubborn as the mound of snow that refuses to melt in the driveway, clinging to its patch of shade well beyond its reasonable expiration date. But melt it will, as sure as the dogwoods will bloom, papery whites and pale pinks dotting the suburban streets for a brief, miraculous moment. And speaking of miracles, consider the small pond in my backyard that freezes over each winter, home to a handful of goldfish, leaving the fish to hibernate below only to reappear in the spring, good as new. Amazing. So we writers resurface, dragging our characters with us, out into the sunshine, ripe for revision and maybe even some kind of redemption.