Story Like Bonsai are Reborn through Deadlines & Transformations

Like clipping and pruning back branches on a bonsai tree.  Then we wire and train those branches to spread in the appearance of organic design reflective of the natural environment, taking careful consideration and steady hands.  We have to make the right decisions.  I’ve been revising Unsettled Between over the last two months and it’s been a transformative process not only for the novel but for me as well.


Writers get the pleasure of constant reflection, taking what’s occurred in our own life and looking for material. I’ve always used my personal experiences to write fiction.  There is no better way to draw unique and resonate stories.  When I have a personal investment in the story, I tend to write with more intensity.  This transfers well to the reader.  They get more emotion and have a stronger connection to the characters.  When I can relate to a character, whether this is in likeable or unlikable ways, I tend to be more interested to know how the story will turn out.

I’m reminded of Alice Munro’s short story, Child’s Play.  The main character is terribly unlikable.  She’s bitterly judgmental and cold.  Then ultimately she commits the worst act imaginable.  I’ve read this story at least two dozen times, and I shake my head every time I come to the ending.  Munro expertly develops a character who I simultaneously hate and for some reason:  I can’t turn away.  I have to read to the last word.  And it pays off.

Then I wonder if this character’s personality is reflective of someone in Munro’s life.  Where did she get the inspiration to draw such a character?

I turned in revisions for my novel, Unsettled Between, today.  Today was the deadline.  And I love deadlines.  And I love feedback.  Like cultivating bonsai, feedback and deadlines give me the shape and inspiration to complete a naturally flowing design for a novel.


And like anything worth doing, I learned something new about myself during this round of revisions.  Or maybe it was a remembering.  That I can’t force anything.  The first month, July, I had such a hard time.  I needed to replot my opening chapter so in essence it was going to become a different story, like making a tree into a bonsai–transformation was needed.  It all came out and I was very pleased with the outcome, but the story seemed to want to do things on it’s own timeline.  The story told me what it wanted.  I didn’t tell it.  This was something I knew–to allow the story to shape itself–but there was a part of me that wanted to force things to happen.  And I was beat back everytime I tried.

Once I let go, the story wrote itself.  It was organic.  The branches grew toward the sun and it became a much more pleasing process.  Certainly, I pruned and trimmed and clipped a few leaves here and there.  What bonsai enthusiast wouldn’t?  What writer wouldn’t?  But I worked with the structure rather than forcing it.  The two main characters, protagonist and antagonist, battled it out and wrote the story for me.  I simply sat back and watched the story manifest.


Now I’ve given my novel, Unsettled Between, to my agent, Allie Levick.  I’m excited.  Nervous, yes, but ultimately ready for the good things coming.  Whether it’s another round of revisions or steps toward acquisition, I’m grateful for the novel’s transformation and it’s becoming something unique and powerful.  I reflect, now, on a year ago and remember how the novel was, thinking of the small growth and the subtle shifts.  It has not only grown, but with expert hands my agent and I have shaped it into a very interesting story–so much so, this story is new in it’s form and concept, allowing me to dream of the moment when I can announce, “This is a story that has never been told.”

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16 thoughts on “Story Like Bonsai are Reborn through Deadlines & Transformations

  1. That’s exciting Beckie. It’ll be fun. Just go in knowing you’ll figure things out that work for you. Like stories, our process is unique. It’ll definitely transform you for the better. I’m excited for you. Let me know if you have questions along the way. I’m always happy to share and help out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I sincerely appreciate the analogy of the process between the bonsai tree and your writing process.
    I’m going to be starting my own process at the beginning of the new year. As much as I look forward to it, I’m quite nervous… I already know, it’s going to take on a life of its own.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes Wa’do is Thank you. I’m happy to inspire. I always look forward to your interactions, whether here or on Facebook. Let me know if there’s anyway I can be of help. Language work is very important and can have powerful residual effects.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes I always thought I was alone in doing that until reading your works, short stories, and now this article. You are one of my inspirations for my Language work share coming up this fall. This article surfaced at the right time for me. I needed it and thanks for writing it. Wado [is thanks right?] well, Wado.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you, Latonian. I so appreciate your words. It’s been a long process and it’s always nice to hear your insights. Your right. I need to do more of the “letting go.” I like how you said the characters are their own people and should write their own stories. Very profound. I’m going to have to agree with you. You have a deep analysis of the process here. I think you’re right about stepping back from projection and coming from the reality of the characters. It’s a subtle and powerful way to look at writing. Thank you!


  6. I love that you opened up to express your process. What resonated with me was the part that you mentioned, “I don’t tell my story what to do, it tells me” [paraphrased]. I sort of took that to mean the characters are truly their own people. And being that you know them more personally, you tend to write from their own minds a series of events as they have experienced it. And that is why whenever you [yourself] attempt to control their story and write it for them, it wasn’t working out until you let go. That was just my impression as I read this article.

    Another insight I want to share is sort of related to something you mentioned in the article in regards to Fiction. “I do not have a story about you. To write your story for you, without knowing you first would be unjust. It would all be fiction. As the Art of fiction is to draw from the unknown projections of my own reality and not yours.” -Latonian J. Dunson

    Basically, I thought that the magic had begun in the moments that you let go. As you stopped projecting your own reality and allowed for your characters to bring forth theirs. And that is what captivates me and motivates me to want to know your characters more. It is if you, the writer, were not involved at all in their creation. Thus, I am personally confronting each character as if we were face to face without a sense of your presence.

    I rambled on here but these are my sincere thoughts. I hope I am understood as I tend to get a bit wordy.

    Liked by 1 person

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