Evil Twins

I’ve got some plants growing in the garden that I am pretty sure are tomatoes.   I think they are because I grew tomatoes there last year and I left fruit behind.  Plus they look like tomato seedlings.  Still, I yanked them out.  But that’s because I’m growing spinach in that bed this year.  I spared a few of the hardier ones and potted them.  If they turn out to be the real thing, I’ve got extras.  But I’m still wary.

I’ve been burned by look-a-likes before.  Years ago I planted June-bearing strawberries next to Ever-bearing ones.  Turned out the Ever-bearing strawberries were Barren strawberries, a wild plant that grows here in Michigan.Image





It took me two years to root them all out and there are still more growing in a field behind the house.  It is the evil twin of the sweet strawberry that experienced gardeners recognize immediately and weed out.

And that got me to thinking about the problem of the evil twin/look-a-like in literature.  Fooling a novice or a stranger that a character is who they pretend to be is fine.  But, fooling a spouse of loved one is just plain stupid.

Many years ago I led a youth group at my church that met in a cavernous room on an upper floor.  Nearly every one of the girls in the group could tell who was walking up the stairs by the sound off their footsteps and they got it right every time.  Even if it was a group of kids coming up, they could discern each pattern in seconds and call them out by name.

Identifying a person by just the sounds of their steps on a set of stairs was beyond my sensory perception, but not by your average fourteen year-old girl.  I could. however identify a co-worker from half a mile away, in the dark, by the way they guided in an aircraft (I work at an airport by-the-way).   It manner in witch the lighted-wands moved was ad individual as fingerprints.

This is why I can’t stand TV shows, movies or books that show a husband totally fooled by a look-a-like.  It doesn’t work in the real world, it shouldn’t work in fiction.  

As writers we need to weed out the tired memes that wouldn’t fool a fourteen year-old.  We need to kill off the evil twins.


Pots and Plots


So, a week ago I was sorting through the new seeds and stuff that I ordered this winter, getting all the ducks lined up when I came across a plastic bag filled with roots.

“What the…?  Oh crap!  It’s the strawberries!”

I totally forgot about the 25 strawberries I ordered.  They came with some other live plants that I rushed to get potted and the strawberries languished in a sealed plastic bag next to the seed potatoes for nearly a month.  Opening the bag, I saw they were still viable but not looking too good.

How was I going to plant all those strawberries with the weather as wacky as it has been?  Sure, strawberries are a hardy plant, but these were young and distressed.  Then it hit me.  I can make paper pots.

You see I picked up this pot maker real cheap. pot maker

And making starter pots with it was simple. pot maker 2pot maker 3pot maker 4

I made 25.pot maker 5

Then I tried to pot the strawberries.  The roots were way too big to fit the little paper pots.

Fortunately I had just ordered 23 larger pots and they fit perfectly.  But I didn’t have any soil for the plants at the time.  But I did have coconut coir, and lots of it.  But I didn’t need much, just one brick of coconut coir was enough for all 23 pots.

strawberries 1strawberries 2 coconut coir

Tragedy averted, but what am I going to do with all those paper pots?

I find that in my writing I tend to do too much work on a draft getting it just right.  A few pages later I find my character going down a totally different path.

“Hey stupid!”  I want to call out to him.  “What about that town I just created, it’s over there!  You’re going the wrong way!”

All the work I put in designing the town square, populating it with quirky and colorful characters, adding a long and diverse history to the place, all gone to waste.  The hero follows some stray dog into the woods instead.

Sure the dog leads him on an adventure that changes his life and he ends up falling in love with the dog’s owner.  But what about the town?  What am I going to do with all those paper plots?

The pots and plots will eventually get used (fingers crossed).  But in the meantime, I’ve wasted too much time on unnecessary projects.  This is why I can admire writers who race through a manuscript, damn the torpedoes.  A first draft is like a starter pot.  Just get it down, get the plant in there and worry about the details later.  Otherwise, if I had waited until everything was perfect, the right pots, the right soil, the right time, all my plants would be dead.  And then what would I have to put in my daiquiris?


Update:  As you can see, I did use a few of the paper pots.  I have some smaller roots left over and put them in the paper pots.  I watered all the plants equally, gave them the same amount of sun.  Here are the strawberries 5 days later.

IMG_20130421_174134_609   Here is the only paper plant still alive. IMG_20130421_174210_158So far, the coconut coir is working better than any potting soil I’ve used.  The jury is still out on the paper pots.