I spent a good chunk of the day outside. Anyone that has spent time with me understands this to be something that doesn’t happen often when it’s sunny. I burn and freckle easily, but there were things to do, like wash the windows and plant my wildflower garden, so out I go. I live in the mountains and sunny weather lasts all of three months so if I don’t do it now… Anyway, while I gardened I had some thoughts.
I am a writer. I am a mother. I am a wife, a musician, a friend, and a dozen other things but I am not a gardener. As a kid, my parents gardened. Not just a few flowers here of there but serious gardens of squash, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins and other such edibles that took serious time management skills to keep weeded and watered. My mother grew lilies, tulips, daisies, irises and pansies in several areas around the 2 acres of property they owned. But they all paled in comparison to the jungle she grew indoors. She had every type of houseplant imaginable and they all loved her, growing beautifully under her loving care. So I know a little about what goes into taking care of plants and gardening. But up until a year ago every plant I have ever owned, died. I thought about why that was, while I pulled grass from where it shouldn’t be, and turned soil so it was soft and welcoming for my plants.
What does gardening have to do with writing, you might ask? Let me explain. A story is very much a living thing just like a plant. You can water it and put it in sunlight and it will grow, but if you want it to grow strong you need to nurture it. You have to give it room to expand and become what it is going to be. You need to trim away the dead parts, you need to feed it and coax it into bloom. You have to give it your attention and love.
It’s not enough to just write your story, any more than its enough to just water your plant. You need to spend time on it, be open to letting the story wander and become a living breathing thing. Edit it after you know what it’s going to be not when it’s still a sprout, so you improve its beauty. When you are finished you will have a wonderful strong story.
So, looking back on my experience as a kid and this last year while I have tended a small rose in my home, I realized I am a gardener. I may never be great with plants (though I will keep trying), but I AM a gardener, and what I garden are words.