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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Mysteries of the Goldfish Pond

Mysteries of the Goldfish Pond

Over the last week, I’ve been sitting beside my goldfish pond a lot. Partly, it’s because I’ve been brainstorming. 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, huh? Of course, frogs come on their own. Sometimes we have tadpoles; sometimes we don’t. But frogs hop in from other places. Fish can’t, right?
Not true. First there were the Mystery Fish (From Outer Space) that appeared entirely on their own – read here for the story.
And there are other strange things in our pond. Every year, we see things swimming around in there and think, Where did that come from?

First of all, we’ve learned that goldfish change color over time. Babies are often black or gray and then develop color later. So, a sudden plethora of little dark fish often mean that our goldfish have had babies. Keeping track of them is hard, since their colors change rapidly.
One of the Mystery Fish (From Outer Space)

Plus, Gina has a habit of dumping into our pond critters she a) wins at carnivals b) finds in streams.

This year, I was startled one sunny day to notice that what looked at first like wrinkles in the pond bed liner were moving. They were long and skinny and grey, and when the sun shone directly upon them, we could see they were catfish – catfish that (we think) Gina brought home from some wild stream last year.
And then there was the monster. It crawled out from under a rock last week. Like the catfish, it
This picture includes one our favorite koi,
which we lost to a heron a couple years ago.
It used to eat from our hand.

was most 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 six inches long.
Yes, we vaguely remember that Gina may have caught some crayfish once … last year? … the year before? … They were an inch long at most. 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?
I’m sure there’s a parallel to writing here – the closed system (your brain?) – the fish that change colors (revisions?) – the monsters out of the deep (eep, you 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’ll leave you to figure it out. I’m still watching for the monster.

I’ll be skipping my Wednesday post this week, but come back Friday for First Impressions!

19 Responses to Mysteries of the Goldfish Pond

  1. Tiana Smith says:

    Ha ha, I love that she’ll bring home random fish to surprise you 🙂

  2. Angela Brown says:

    I was just enjoying the mystery of the monster critters but I like the way you twisted in a writing analogy, sorta, mostly…yes…yes you did 🙂

  3. mshatch says:

    no monsters in my yard thankfully (just skunks) but we did discover a big fat toad who’d claimed my dog’s pool as his own. I was going to empty it and clean it out until we saw him sitting on the plastic edge.

    That’s too funny Gina brings stuff home to live with the goldfishes 🙂

  4. I used to bring home things too. I brought home a bunch of fish from a warm spring I went to with a friend in high school. I built a pond for them in my backyard. It didn’t quite turn out like the drawing since my grandfather took over. The tiny fish grew to about 6 – 8 inches long. I bought plecos too. Then a raccoon wandered into our yard. One lone fish survived and was moved to a tank where he spent several more years.

    Small Child will be getting his first fish tank for Christmas this year. My ultimate goal – an axolotl.

  5. Nature is awesome that way, just surprises you with something amazing but unexpected. I think truly awesome writing is the same way. (See, there’s my parallel.) 😉 Watch for the monster, eh? He’ll keep you inspired.

  6. Gina better not go to BC. You might end up with Ogopogo in your pond. Though that monster might be too big to fit. 🙂

  7. Susan Oloier says:

    How fun! I’m sorry you lost your koi to a heron 🙁

  8. Fun how Gina is adding new fish and life into your pond. Wonder what she’ll slip in there next.

  9. Hi, Dianne,

    How cool to have such a wonderful place for contemplation! Ponds are so tranquil….

    If you get a chance Please stop by my blog… I have a cover reveal… MINE. LOL. Actually its an illustration I create or the debut novel of Siv Ottem.

    I also have news I will share with you in an email later.


  10. HA! That’s some special fish pond you’ve got there. Sounds like it has a Miracle Gro for critters in it.

  11. J E Oneil says:

    Jeez, you really have your own little undersea world there. And a fish that ate out of your hand! How sad it was caught.

    Watch out for those little monsters of yours 🙂

  12. Lexa Cain says:

    But don’t ponds breed mosquitoes? I guess being at ground zero of the Nile Virus has me more concerned than most. I hate mosquitoes and find it especially disheartening that the ones that bite are female. So much for us girls sticking together…

  13. Steven says:

    Backyard cryptids! I can think of a few writing analogies, including the evolution of a novel and the introduction of random inspiration during the process.

  14. Cynthia says:

    It just so happened that today while I was picking up my child from pre-school, she pointed out to me some dead goldfish just floating in her classroom’s aquarium. I have a feeling that the fish would be replaced, and the teachers might let the kids think that the previous fish had never left. From the kids’ perspective, the universe of the fish will remain untainted. Wouldn’t it be nice if an unseen hand can smooth out our universe for us before we realize there was anything amiss?

    So it’s quite timely that I got to your post and read about all the peculiarities that can occur in a goldfish pond. Yes, some of what you described parallels the writing life, especially when you talk about stuff that seems to appear out of nowhere, some good and some not so good.

    I don’t remember if I’d asked you this before Dianne, but are you attending the SCBWI conference in LA this week?

  15. T. Drecker says:

    Lovely pond! I love to sit next to ours and stare at it. Love that you get mysterious creatures – that makes it so much more exciting 🙂

  16. Linda G. says:

    Maybe your pond will sprout a monster story for you? Can’t you just see something big and sinister crawling out of there into your imagination–the holding station on its way into the world of readers?

  17. Six inches would be a huge mudbug!

  18. Julie Dao says:

    Hahaha, I love this! Your pond is like a time capsule that reminds you of where each critter came from. I think there’s a definite story brewing here…

  19. Allison Zoie says:

    Possibly your lake will grow a beast story for you? Would you be able to simply see something enormous and evil creeping out of there into your creative ability-the holding station on its direction into the universe of bookworms? top crowdfunding sites