Tied Up In Knots
Years ago, Dave Oppegaard was bleeding from his head in my dorm room. It wasn’t his fault, exactly; he’d been tackled into a fire hydrant by a girl. And it wasn’t really her fault, either; she thought she was tackling him into a snow bank, which she was. Unfortunately, hidden just beneath the surface was a two-foot stump of frozen metal, made all the redder by Dave’s impact. It cut beautifully through his rabbit fur hat. And head.
Up to that point, I’d have bet on Dave’s head in just about any match up, but this thing had done some damage. So I did what any bulletproof 18-year-old would do: I called my mom.
Me: “I dunno, mom. I think he needs stitches.”
Mom: “How big is the cut?”
Me: “Uhh...two inches?”
Mom: “Eh. Just tie his hair together. He’ll be fine.”
Now, Mom was a nurse, and a good one at that. She’d patched me up after God knows how many injuries, and was probably the only reason I was still alive. I listened to this woman. Still, this was a bit cavalier.
Mom: “Sure. Just grab little clumps of hair on either side and start tying. Works just like stitches.”
Me (to Dave): “She wants me to tie your hair together.”
And so, armed with nothing but assurances from my mother and a basic knowledge of square knots, I set about closing the two-inch gash in Dave Oppegaard’s head. And you know what? It worked. Scout’s honor. History may prove me wrong. In forty years, Dave’s receding hairline may reveal a jagged, tectonic mess, but somehow I doubt it. Those were some good knots.
Writing can be like that sometimes. Sometimes you playfully shove your book into a snow bank, only to have it come out with a massive head wound. Don’t worry. Just grab some plot threads, cinch ‘em down, and keep going. When you come back to it, you may find that the wound has healed and all is well. Or it may have healed badly, and you have to rip it back open, or chop the head off entirely and spray blood all over your operating couch. But just remember: whatever happens, you’ll still have a good story.
Peter Pearson is currently enrolled in Hamline's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is not actually a Boy Scout. But if he were, he'd totally have his dorm room surgery badge.