This last season I watched with anticipation at my potato plants I had growing in containers. I tried growing them in straw one year and got a good crop of used straw out of the deal. I tried them directly in the ground and left them too long – out of laziness – and got mush. My best results were the left over seedlings I tossed in the compost heap. I got some great tubers from that endeavor and the field mice can attest to their deliciousness as they ate a good portion of them.
So this past year I bought some cheap containers and set them up with grade-A seed potatoes. The plants flourished. As they grew I heaped more soil on top of them expecting a bumper crop by fall. But when fall came around all I got were the seed potatoes grown a little bigger and a few more seedlings for next year.
You see, I had so many different things growing, so many beds to weed and water that I left the potatoes to fend for themselves. Sure I got plenty of peppers, I always get peppers. I’m good at peppers. But I suck at spuds.
In my writing, I started off as a novelist. I love telling long epic stories. But like most of us, I wasn’t that good at it. I took a year off to learn how to write Flash fiction, stories under 1000 words. I got good at writing flash, but I’m still a novelist at heart. I have a big whooping yarn to tell.
When I went back to writing the book, I wrote each chapter like it was Flash. Short descriptions, precise dialogue and more concepts were left between the lines than on the page. So naturally, my epic fantasy Alpha reader kept telling me the chapters were lacking substance (suck Goblin balls).
I realized I was writing my novel like I was growing my potatoes. I was spending so much time concentrating on the scenes, the plot, the worldbuild, that I left the character to fend for himself. My hero, who started off as small potatoes, is now medium potatoes. I can safely say that this draft officially sucks. I want to scrap the rest of the draft and start over. Badly.
If I had dug up my potatoes before the end of the season, I would have any seed potatoes for next year. If I scrap the novel five chapters from the end and start again, I may be giving up some valuable lessons about my ending.
So, even though I currently suck at growing tubers and epic fantasy, I know where I suck at them. Spring is only a dozen weeks off. Plenty of time to prepare the ground for another draft and another season.