You Again: Sticky Time

So Agnes went out yesterday, and then I dealt with some trauma which meant my head was anywhere but my writing, and then I woke up at the crack of dawn still upset and read a book by a pal that made everything better. Mad Dash by Patricia Gaffney. It’s not out until August, so this is cruel, teasing you like this, but it’s so wonderful, and I wept all over it in a GOOD way, because it’s just beautiful but not sad at all, just true. You know how it is when you read exquisite writing that just nails something you’ve known but couldn’t put into words? And then you weep because it’s so true? That kind of crying. Mad Dash, wonderful, wonderful book.

And of course reading great books makes me want to write. I’ll never be the writer Gaffney is, she’s a miracle, but I’m pretty damn good, and I have that Zelda file right there on the desktop looking at me. And now I want to write.

But not yet.

So my daughter calls and we’re talking about the Cranky Agnes logo (the logo Agnes has at the top of her newspaper column and on her promo aprons) and I tell her that now I have to find a new occupation for Zelda because she was a cookbook writer and now Agnes is a cookbook writer so Zelda cannot be one. Which is all right because I wasn’t married to that anyway. And I ask Mollie, “Any ideas on what Zelda should do for a living?” and she says, “Why would I have ideas?” and I say, “Because whatever she does is what you’re going to hang the marketing stuff on,” and she says, “OH.” Because she is business 24/7.

Mollie says, “She has a cable TV show,” and I’m thinking, “Uh, no,” and Mollie says, “About plants,” (Mollie was a landscape architect in first career), and I say, “Oh, well . . .” and she keeps going with ideas and hits “perennial expert,” and I say, “Oh!” and she talks about how you can’t plant perennials under walnut trees because the roots kill them, and I’m thinking, “Malcolm is a walnut tree, Zelda could look at him and think ‘walnut tree,’” (oooh, maybe I should change his name to Walter) and that certain perennials are really good together and that others are toxic to each other, and I’m thinking, “Hoo boy, symbolism there,” and then she says that many perennials are poisonous, and I remember there’s a murder by poisoning in the book, and what if Zelda is known as an perennial specialist, and all of a sudden, I’ve got Zelda’s profession and a whole new way into this book.

Because Zelda’s nemesis (although not necessarily antagonist) in this book is Rose, and Rose has a mother named Lily, and then I started thinking about how tough roses were, both to grow and then to get rid of, especially the wild rambling kind which have to be perennials, right? I don’t know, I haven’t looked yet. But is this not crunchy?

And that’s when I realized that you could get a second go round on Sticky Time.

Sticky Time is that period at the beginning of a book where you keep tripping over things that need to be in it. You’re not looking; it’s just that everywhere you go, suddenly you think, “I can use that.” I used to think that everything stuck to the book during Sticky Time, but then I realized that I was seeing and hearing thousands of things during that time, but only the stuff that the book wanted registered. It was like the book knew what it needed, and turned sticky for those ideas.

But I always thought it only happened at the beginning of the book. Oh, sure, sometimes things come along later, like Wonder Woman in Don’t Look Down, but the stuff that stuck in the beginning determined the shape of the book. Only now it turns out that if you go away from a book and then come back, you get a new Sticky Time.

Well, I’m thrilled.

So now I’m looking at perennial books and googling and making notes, and Zelda is coming through strong again. The work a character does is so important, it says so much about who she is, that getting that right can sometimes bring the entire character into focus.

Plus did you know that if you don’t separate perennials every few years, they start to strangle each other? How’s that for a metaphor for family? I’m LOVING this Zelda-as-plant-specialist idea. Mollie does it again.

And—how crunchy is this—Strop is right, YoU AGAIN type does look like it has small vines or something growing on it. That’s A Sign.

Excuse me while I go find things that stick to my book.

31 thoughts on “You Again: Sticky Time

  1. Jenny, I am so happy for you. Your upbeat vibes are coming through strong and clear.

    (I’m happy for me, too, because I’ve been wanting to read this book for several years. And now it looks like I will.)

  2. Yay! I get back from lunch – where I was looking at plant catalouges and planning my garden – and there’s a new Argh Ink that is both sticky and crunchy.

    I’m thrilled you’re thrilled. Now we can start poking you gently with a stick to hurry up and write about Zelda because you’re happy about her again. Plus I’m a plant freak and a Jenny book with plants will be heaven.

    It’s funny how the universe gives you the things you need when you least expect them.

  3. Don’t you love when the puzzle pieces seem to tumble out of the box (or your mind in this case) and fit together so seamlessly that you wonder how come you didn’t see something so obvious?

    I like the idea of a perennial expert, and look at Rose and Lily, etc. It seems for obvious. You probably had this in the recesses of your mind.

    Your daughter is worth her weight in gold, isn’t she?

    Sounds like you’re off and running. You go, Girl!

  4. A sign plus goosebumps reading how YoU AGAIN is coming together. Everything in its own time seems to be true.
    Children are a gift and Mollie is obviously a very special one.
    And now I know why the flowers would never grow beneath the walnut tree.
    Thanks for the update on Agnes and will start counting the days.

  5. Love it! Yes! I even can offer help on herbs and perennials, since I can’t help on writing. Even though I still think Zelda should have finger waves and drive a roadster.

    Now, to the important stuff. I have maintained (a minority of 1, but who’s counting) that DLD was actually a written version of an adult Wonderwoman comic book. Is this true?

  6. This is wonderful! What a great way to explain how things fall together for writing! This is a really wonderful post, and it sounds as though you’ll have a great time writing!



  7. Sticky time–I love it! I also love the plant direction and symbolism. Can’t wait to see the revised collage for this one.

    Is Molly available on a consultant basis?

  8. Rugosa roses. Nasty sonsabitches. Used for landscaping because nothing will kill them. Hated by gardeners because nothing will kill one. Every time I pruned mine (6 feet high in the back yard) I came away bleeding. One time it even snatched my scrunchy and held it high in the air.

    I’m sure you can think of people like that.

  9. What a wonderful name for it, Sticky Time!!! I love, love, love it! I think it’s even more fun the second time around, because you appreciate it so much more after struggling with an early draft.

  10. I love, love, love that Zelda will be a plant girl! And perennials lend themselves nicely to fertile minds. I’m sure it will be a good gritty read.

  11. There is just so much symbolism between gardening and families. Pruning, weeding, fertilizing, nurturing, separating, feeding, growing… And of course the things you can do with plants to enrich your own life. Flowers for beauty, herbs for seasoning, vegetables for feeding…

    I can hardly wait for you to pull this book into being.

  12. *happy dance*

    this is so great, Jenny. send your DD some chocolate. 🙂

    fertilizing? *snort* the (bull)shit of family. i like it. *hee hee* oh, my mind was the only one that went that way? okay then…

  13. Continuing this incredible symbolism theme…Is the giant old house everyone’s stuck in going to be covered in ivy? The dense, creeping kind that slowly overtakes and chokes off everything in its path? Just an idea…

  14. Sticky business, eh? Ever watch the PBS show, Rosemary and Thyme? It’s one of my favorites, two female British horticulturists (I think that’s what they are but maybe Mollie would know) who go to exotic locations and always uncover a murder, or two. It’s a contemporary mystery series. It’s kind of fun, a little tame on the plot, more of a Christie type story line. I get it on the West coast on Friday night, not sure about in your neck of the woods.
    Glad to hear Agnes has been sent in. Looking forward to reading it. But also looking forward to hearing more on You Again. Very interesting font choice. The reason I hadn’t liked it in the beginning was because the G looked like it had something growing off it. Heh. ‘Twas a vine.

  15. Mollie- the Goddess of daughters. And your very own resource person. That young woman is just awesome.

    Did I understand that we will be able to purchase Cranky Agnes Aprons? Or was that just wishful thinking?

    I know I am in a line about 1000 people long, but really “Agnes, the out-takes” would be a fine thing. I mean TV shows make DVDs with “NEVER BEFORE SCENES!” Why can’t we have a little companion book with Agnes?

    Or if that doesn’t work, I, too, volunteer to keep all of those words safe and sound and happy all of their lives. I will even take them to see BOB as my sister lives in the Carolinas.

    Zelda hasn’t seen the light of day for quite the while and she already rocks…..ooh think of what a landscaper can do with rocks?!

  16. We’re in the process of finalizing the Cranky Agnes logo which will end up on merchandise as soon as we get the merchandising stuff going (and by “we” I mean Mollie). She was thinking mugs, but I told her Agnes has a Cranky Agnes apron in the book, so there may be those, too. The incredible Mara Lubell (who designed the HWSW cherry bomb logo) is working on it now. You will see it here first, of course.

  17. Wooo nice one!

    Gosh golly gee… all this talk about perennials strangling each other reminded me that the oleander needs to be trimmed again. With a chainsaw. (It has decided to be a tree.)

    I love the idea of the plants and the way that can work through like… well… vines. 🙂
    But WALTER? Noo….. Please… not Walter… lol.

  18. Jenny, I find your thought process fascinating. I am not a writer, but I always love learning new things and new ways to view the world. Sticky notes- I wonder if that is how certain things end up sticking in my head as I develop lesson plans! I’ll have to explore that more….

    We have a forsythia bush along the side of our house. It is one of those perennials that will go out of control if you aren’t paying attention. The pictures they have on websites don’t do justice- we forgot to trim it until late last summer, where it had grown to about 10 feet tall in spots (normally about 6) and was about 8 feet wide (rather than the 3 feet). They have to be pruned at least once a year in order to not go crazy. It took HOURS to finally wade through the forsythia jungle- I think we pruned enough to create another full-sized plant! Based on its out-of-control nature, it’s kind of like the “wild child” of the perennials.

    Oh, and I agree with Silke- Walter the Walnut tree?!?!? Based on what I’ve read about Zelda’s character, that seems like a cheesier thought than she would have.

    Love the Twelve Days of Zelda- can’t wait for more!

  19. Oh, this is great news! I love how everything just started to fall into place as soon as Mollie said “perennial specialist”. You know it’s right when you get one idea and suddenly it’s like a floodgate was opened somewhere and they all come rushing out and engulf you. I like the sticky idea–that resonates with me.

    Glad to hear that Zelda is letting you know who she is. I, too, have been waiting for quite some time for this tome. I was under the impression way back when that it was already published and had searched (unsuccessfully, of course) for it until I realized that it had yet to be written. And now it will be even more fun because I will get to watch the story unfold from the inception to the gestation to the final pangs of labor and everything in between… Oh sorry, was that too graphic? *wink* But we all know that our stories are like our children, so I thought the symbolism was apropos…

    Anyway. Off to work on my own mss.

  20. Thanks-

    It is wonderful to hear/feel such enthusiasm from anyone about their job- especially when that job brings such joy to so many others. And I agree the plant thing is great. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

  21. Never much into plants, flowers, trees. I once killed an aloe plant. They are pretty tough to destroy. I then killed a cactus. I have no plants. My hubby teases me that the only think I know how to grow are kids.

    Anyway, I like looking for things that stick, things you can use. Funny, I find something I can use, I tend to write it on a sticky note and put next to my monitor for when I need it.

  22. YES! So does this mean you are coming to visit and we will go look at great gardens?

    Bodnant, in the Conwy Valley, north Wales, is just fabulous, with views down the valley to the sea, a laburnum walk and beautiful wisteria stems twining over the front of the house. Give me a little while and I can find many others.

    Which reminds me, many of these plants are poisonous to people too. Laburnum, ivy, foxglove – loads of ’em. And isn’t there an Agatha/ Poirot story where someone is killed when foxglove leaves are deliberately mixed in with the sage used in the stuffing?

  23. Even better thought: how about setting You Again in England? The American half of the family comes over to visit the English half, and gets stranded by snow/ black ice/ air traffic control strike. Then you have to visit.

  24. Which, seeing as Zelda is American, gives a really good draw to get her there – visiting English gardens, writing a book about them for Americans.

  25. Getting too excited now, so will go back to my research table and then walk into town through the snow turning to slush.

  26. Mollie the Wonder Daughter does it again.

    Strop – yes, there is a Christie book involving sage and onion. I think its one of the Miss Marples but I can’t swear to it.

    Perennials I find heartbreaking to grow because they tend to be needy. But when they take off and do well it is very gratifying. I guess its a bit like raising kids, huh? I bet Mollie never lets squirrels mess with her bulbs. My two most successful perennials are my climatis and my butterfly bush. They thrive almost in spite of me.

  27. Hey Strop – I’ve been to Bodnant. Many many yewars ago but wonderful gardens.
    Someone mentioned Oleander. Talk about posionous. Very, very lethal.

  28. Sticky Time! What a great term.

    I love the Sticky Time for my projects. Parties to plan or crafts to make or gifts to make. Not a book, or a collage, but the process is very similiar.

    Can’t wait for Agnes and Zelda.

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