Saturday, June 8, 2013

Prose & Ivy


edera helix. For those of you who don't know, that's the Scientific name of the plant species more commonly known as—wait for it—Common Ivy. Though it's native to most of Europe and western Asia, its foliage is ever-present in the English landscape, which gives it another of its common names: English Ivy.

No, this isn't a Hogwarts Herbology Lesson—I'm far from qualified for teaching one of those. And yes, I am aware this is a Speculative Fiction blog and not one designated for a botanical discussion. This past Monday, however, I spent about an hour and a half—maybe two hours—dealing with this beautiful-but-invasive species...and it gave me a bit of inspiration.
When I think of ivy, I automatically envision the beautiful foliage creeping up the side of nearly every stone or brick building of an ivy league campus—an awe-inspiring sight, a testament to the power of of Mother Nature, and one that adds a powerful and fantastical element to any landscape.
Ivy climbing a building on Harvard's campus.
 Of course, there's evil in every fantasy story, and this one has a name: H.O.A. As poetic as it'd be to tell you it stands for Hellish Order of Azaz'el, it doesn't (though as wrathful as their taunts are, I sometimes wonder). No, in this case it stands for the ever-annoying Home Owner's Association. {Word of Advice: If you're in the market to buy, avoid these whenever possible.}

Apparently, by Royal HOA decree, we're not allowed to have ivy. It amazes me, however, given that it was the previously owners of the home who planted said plant (members of the HOA during their ownership, mind you) on the northern side of the house. I agree with the HOA—this was a poor choice of plant for that side of the house, as it was also burrowing between the foundation and outer wall, even making an appearance in our formal living room (our house is three sides vinyl; the western—not the northern—side is brick).

At any rate, I've been maintaining this plant since moving in six years ago; due to my work schedule as of late, however, I let it go a little wild...

Just kidding. That's not my house. It was far from that horrendous (though, with the threat of steep fines, you'd have thought it to be). After enduring several blisters and sore hamstrings, I was—with the help of Jeremiah and Lisa—finally able to pull up most of the plant and its offspring.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with ivy, it's a woody vine, one that sprouts tendrils every foot or so, tendrils which can cling to and burrow themselves into nearly any surface. And where these tendrils sprout, it will also form another root system (so long as soil is near enough). Removing it is bloody hell (literally, in the case of my poor hands). It was this process of removing it that got me thinking of how, if I wrote similarly to its method of propagation, my story, too, would be just as resilient. As I pulled root after root, strand after strand, which is a process in and of itself considering how the vines weave their way in and out of each other, crossing paths like characters and plotlines in prose, I was inspired...which, my dear Beardies, brings me to the point of my ramblings ...

Prose writing—any writing, really—should be like an ivy plant...at least if you want a strong, well-written, conveyance of thought. The main root of the plant itself is always the strongest and deeply-rooted like your main story arc should be. Its tendrils—world-building, settings, character arcs, and subplots, among other literary elements and gems—should root themselves throughout the book, burrowing every few pages, occasionally twisting or entwining with one another to form a cohesive masterpiece of beauty—a tapestry, if you will, of language and life, of style and story, and of imagination and imagery.

Écrire souvent, bien écrire, et écrire avec bonheur,

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