Turns out that top soil needs all of the little microbes it can get. As Dante said, "The further you enter into it; the deeper it becomes." Imagine if you will that the basis of writing ideas are the size of a single-cell organism, and they live in my top soil. That means that there are less of them than there used to be because it hasn't been a very healthy environment, and I want them to multiply because I understand that without the symbiosis of their help to my bigger ideas there will be meager growth in my field.
There could be all kinds of ideas living in my top soil, if I could make peace and nurture them somehow. These are NOT the novels and the screenplay ideas, nor even the pretty poetry ideas. They're smaller, rudimentary ideas about life and interaction. If one predetermines what is acceptable and wipes out some of the interactions, then other interactions become weakened, particularly the big ideas. It is all the little ideas working together that creates a world in which the big work can be done finally.
I remember a time when screenplay ideas popped into my head almost daily. I was saturated with notions of what screenplays were to me, but through bad schooling and small allocations of resources and time, I did not nurture those ideas. I weeded out the ideas that I thought were noncommercial. I rejected the personal stories that felt embarrassing. I even avoided the blockbuster commercial ideas because I was as afraid to succeed as I was to fail. So what was left were safe projects, usually connected to something my ex-husband approved of, and all of those microbes died off from the pesticides and herbicides I was constantly applying to my work field. Then life circumstances came along and blew it all away.
So after a couple years of fallowness, some of the microbes have begun to return. Just a few, and I'm thinking, how do I encourage my mind to let the flow of ideas happen again? How do I make this field safe for microbes to just do their thing? I've been applying fertilizer, and letting some deep-rooted weeds of discomfort bring up nutrients, I've been getting control of my emotions and breaking up the soil so it can be loamy. I am still afraid of the wind of circumstances though. What to do, what to do?
How does a writer make a life safe for writing when life is not safe? My answer is mulch. A good weighty mulch of shredded tree bark and leaves, perhaps. Nature's idea is to let the wind drop a mulch over the whole earth. We're the ones that keep pushing it aside. Mulch is the ultimate security blanket for microbes. It keeps the soil from being compacted or dried out. It decays into a food source for them. It even improves the movement of water and controls the temperature.
What, in a writer's life, is mulch? The first word that came to mind was "patience". But, I do believe it is more than that. It is fiercely protecting the right to write. To defend that fragile atmosphere for writing is such a challenge. There are so many interference patterns to confront that sometimes I feel I'll have to erect a fence around my field. But, mulch is a gentler protection of the writing ideas that are establishing colonies in my field. Waiting until there is real health and vibrancy in that soil means that when I commit to a project it will have the potential for full-evolution with the support of a lifestyle that has been patiently developed by having blank, empty time and space for it to fill.