Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mysteries of the Goldfish Pond (And Your Draft) by Dianne K. Salerni

I’ve been sitting beside my goldfish pond a lot. Partly, it’s because I’m mulling over my current WIP. Partly, it’s because I’m waiting for the monster to reappear.

It’s amazing how mysterious a self-contained pond with no access to the outside world can be. You’d think we’d know what was in it. Oh, frogs come and go on their own. They can hop away. But fish can’t come and go as they please, right?

Not true. Every year, we see things swimming around in there and think, Where did that come from? One year we were visited by a school of two dozen Mystery Fish that seemed to fall into our pond from outer space. Someone suggested to us that their eggs may have been carried into the pond on the feet of a bird or in the leaves of an aquatic plant. Three years later, the entire school disappeared. Beamed back up to their home planet? Possibly. (Although it might have been a heron.)

Also goldfish change color over time. Babies are often black or gray and then develop markings later. Keeping track of them is hard, since their color changes so rapidly it sometimes seems as if new fish have appeared from nowhere.

In addition, my daughter has a habit of dumping into our pond critters she a) wins at carnivals b) finds in streams. We think that’s where the monster came from.

It crawled out from under a rock last week. It was only visible when the sun shone directly on it, because it was the same color as the rocks beneath. It had giant claws and numerous pairs of scuttling feet …

It was a crayfish, maybe eight inches long.

I vaguely remember that my daughter may have caught some crayfish once … last year? … the year before? … They were an inch long at most at the time. They sank to the bottom of the pond, vanished under a rock, and were never seen again. Until now.

I keep hoping to get another glimpse of it. Them. Who knows how many there are? Or how big?

Of course there’s a parallel to writing here and everything I need to make my WIP come together.  The closed system (that crappy first draft) – the fish that change colors (revisions) – the monsters out of the deep (eep, my subconscious?) – and the visitors that arrive from bird’s feet, eggs attached to pond plants, or critters dumped into the water by adventurers (your beta readers, agents, editors). 

I’m sitting by my pond.

I’m writing.

I’m watching for the monster.


  1. I adore this!!! I'm at the same place as you are, thinking, thinking, tinkering. I just listened to the All the Wonders podcast with Kate DiCamillo and appreciated what she had to say about early drafting. I've also just picked up Writing the Breakout Novel for another read through. I'm not exactly sure on a lot of things (read: everything!) in this new project, but I'm feeling my way and am excited.

    All best to you!

  2. You make pondering seem so exciting! The monsters help keep us on our toes. No time to get complacent in writing. Though it still happens. Loved reading this!

  3. Reflecting by water seems to be a spur to creative thoughts. All the best as you think and dream and write.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!