Monday, September 22, 2008

Random Thoughts on Gardening and Writing

Image from

Last week the Little Dude and I did some serious gardening. We tore out a bunch of overgrown, rosemary bushes that revealed something resembling lavendar that had been smothered to death. We encountered peril in the form of black widows the size of quarters, pincher bugs and nosey neighbors. We weeded, tilled the soil, planted irises, daffodils and calla lillies and when that wasn't enough, we mulched it all.

You'd think I'd have a rockin' garden after all that toil but not so much. You can see the mounds where the iris rhizomes promise to break through the soil in triumph. But that won't happen till the spring. Ditto on the daffodils. The callas are a little limp from the shock of relocating under the pine tree and I won't see a flower until March if we have a warm winter.

The Little Dude was happy having flung dirt every which way. I was scratched, sweaty and sore but hopeful ... kind of like how I feel looking at the outline of my next book. Like the garden, there's not much to look at. I once showed the outline of Switchcraft to my agent and she immediately called me expressing much concern that there wasn't a book in it. I explained it was an outline, you know, like the charcoal sketches that Michelangelo did detailing hands, feet and I think a nose or two of the characters he'd eventually painted onto the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. My explanation was met with tense silence. It was a tough road but as you know, it all turned out okay for both Michelangelo and to a lesser extent, Switchcraft.

Anyway, I got to thinking that us gardeners and writers have to have a lot of patience and a lot of hope to pull it off. We have to look at the bald spots and churned up soil and imagine the the gray-green spires of the irises and their ruffled flowers. We have to hope that the vulnerable seeds will work their magic in the dark soil. Even when their brave, tender bodies break ground, we fear some careless shoe will crush it. Of course, there's work to be done in the watering, feeding and weeding; a garden, nor a book is possible without work ... sometimes very tedious and repetitive work.

So keep that thought in mind when you hit page 200 and wonder if maybe you oughta go back and rethink this idea. Or, when you get revision notes from your agent/editor/critique partner on the eighth draft of your book. In other words, when you're this close to giving up, remember that gardens and books are only as good as those who tend to them. Wimps need not apply.

Okay, I admit that I wrote that more for my benefit than yours but if it works for you, cool. If not, sorry. I'm sure my buddy Margo Candela is blogging about something much more interesting than I am.

But if you have little people running loose in your house, may I recommend the following? The Little Dude gives it two thumbs up.


DeAnna Cameron said...

Great post, Mary --
With your track record, you have ample reason to believe the story is there and that you have the skills to make it bloom.
I wish you luck with your garden, too :-)

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