A couple of days ago I decided to buy some valerian root extract for the first time. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, from the 4:30 sunrise and the stress of my to-do list, and I thought that making tea with valerian at night might help. The plant also grows naturally in our front yard, but after some internet research I wasn’t sure that it could be consumed raw.
So I went and asked at the Coop. “In herbalism, you’re supposed to ask the plant if it’s safe to eat,” said one of the natural medicine specialists. “Have you asked the plant?” I checked her expression and saw that she was being serious. “How does the plant answer?” I asked. “I guess you just get a feeling,” she said. Having never had a conversion with a plant before, I wasn’t sure that I was qualified to risk my digestive health on my cross-species linguistic skills, so I went ahead and bought the extract anyway.
But, as strange as it sounds to ask a plant a question, I think stories work in a similar way. My husband, Tim Stout, has been coaching me on stories and how they work, and there seems to be a parallel strategy: ask the story what it wants, and listen to its answer. And the story will start to talk to you. I’ve had several false starts with this next section of Hieroglyph, which has been very frustrating, but I know the solution isn’t too far away. It’s a matter of clearing my head enough to listen. And who knows! Maybe I’ll hear something new from my story today. And if not, there’s a plant in the front yard who’s probably feeling neglected. I should go out at chat at my next 4:30am wake-up.