(with apologies to JRR Tolkien)
The trick to planting herbs is to contain them in pots. That is, unless you want your garden overrun with mint and sage and oregano and thyme. I stick to this rule, because I want my garden to produce tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers too. Except there’s this one peppermint plant that went rogue years ago. It’s small, I thought, I’ll be able to keep it tamed. Besides, a Buffalo winter will surely kill it.
I’ll pause so all you gardeners can laugh.
This is that peppermint plant today:
The only way I keep it out of my garden is ruthless hacking. I make tea from the leaves, so it’s a useful beast, but an unruly one.
Which brings me to SNIs (Shiny New Ideas). I’m deep in the sequel to Force Of Habit. Yet there’s this YA that’s nagging me. On top of that, this morning as I drove to the grocery store I saw a deserted parking lot with seagulls fighting over some stale bread, and I started to write an entire scene in my head. For yet another book.
Just like the rampaging peppermint, if I don’t contain these books, they’ll devour my sequel time. This is why I keep pen and paper in my glove compartment. I sketched out the scene. It was like giving a treat to my hungry cats so I could finish a task before feeding them. The SNI settled in its corner, gnawing its tidbit of attention. Like this oregano:
When the sequel is with betas, I know I’ll have time for the SNI files. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I’ll squee as I open their boxes and dither over which to play with first. I’ll allow the many scenes and characters and story arcs I’ve tucked away to audition for the starring role of my new WIP.
I can hear them now, rehearsing their parts, putting on their best makeup, shining their tap shoes. They’ve seen what a well-tended plant in the right pot can look like and they want the same result.
Since rogue herbs don’t yield a useable crop, I’d love to hear how everyone else handles this. All the writers reading this post (writers of fiction, nonfiction, songs, anything): how do you contain your peppermint?