On Planting a Book, Or…Um, Writing a Garden

So, I’ve just returned from the fields.

Ha! The fields.

I mean, they’re like…50 yards from my back door. But, HEY! Give me some credit, O.K.

I’m doing my very best to be a farmer.

Probably not going to ever be given the title “farmer” by anyone of credible stature, but I’ll try nonetheless! (I may one day rise to be christened a “gardener” but that’s probably a long ways off itself.)

I’m a writer. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.

However, I do like to garden a bit. Mostly the small stuff. A lot of herbs. Flowers and other such wonders.

Truth is, I never was quite good at it growing up. I never had anyone teach me, but my family and I were determined to grow our own food and enjoy seeing things bloom around the house and yard and so we began asking, learning, doing.

We come from Florida (mostly) – Orlando. We grew a lot of potted veggies, herbs, fruits, and flowers. We actually got pretty good at potted gardening. But, we never ventured into…the BIG stuff. (Enter epic music with deep drums leading to great anticipation…) Stuff like…Tilling the ground, planning full beds, and planting in the actual earth (what a concept…who would’ve thought?).

We did a little, to be truthful. Although what little we did, less actually made it to harvest. But we kept learning and working at it.

Last year we moved to the Midwest. The city is still our residence, but our home sits on a few acres and it has given us an opportunity to become…sorta-kinda-small-time-we-have-no-idea-what-we’re-doing-wanna-be-farmers!

I have found gardening to be quite a bit like writing, though.

I’ve already hinted at some small comparisons such as: though a writer may not be great at first, keep at it. Keep asking, learning, doing. Eventually the fruit will bear and your writing will grow (kinda like our blueberries and peppers and tomatoes did last year. Yummy!); and, you may start small (potted plants and herbs), but as you grow you expand your writing into bigger arenas (like tilling bigger fields and planting in the ground); and, at first you may not get as big a crop as you would like, but there’s always the next season.

Just don’t give up!

Then there are the critters! Bugs (bad reviews…pest control anyone?), varmints who want to eat your growing plants (negative speaking people who want to discourage you), bad weather (times when it’s just hard to write), and unseen dangers to your crops like underground pests or fungus (inner voices that want to give in to the negatives and convince you that you’re no good or just to give up).

There will always be critters. Deal with them properly and learn how to overcome them each time you sit down to write anew.

There are many comparisons between gardening and writing. Here are a few more I was thinking about while tilling earlier today (with my gas-powered tiller, no less):

  • Writing, like gardening, is hard work. There’s just no way around it. In order to enjoy the fruits of your labor, well…you’ve got to labor. Get at it!
  • Writing and gardening both require a lot of prep-work. You’ve got to do your homework in order to be most effective. Make sure your ground is ready. The soil is right. Plant the right seeds in the right seasons and know when you may have to wait on putting that veggie (or manuscript) in the ground. It just might not be ready yet. Don’t rush it though, that could mean disaster. Plan ahead and work your plan.
  • You may run into blocks from time to time. With gardening it may be hard ground, roots, weeds, etc. With writing it may be lack of inspiration, fatigue, hard days at work, other people who want to monopolize your time. With both though, you must find the right tools and techniques to get through the hard stuff and just get it done.
  • Writing and gardening both take time. You don’t just plop a seed in the ground and expect carrots in the morning. The same with growing a story. You must plant the seeds, nourish the story, water, fertilize, and sometimes even sing to your seedlings. Proper care and love over time grows a beautiful story (or bed of veggies). Your growth as a writer will be in direct proportion to your patience to see it through all the proper steps.
  • Writing and gardening both lead to something remarkable. There’s nothing quite like harvesting your own food from the work of your hands. The fruit (sometimes literally) of your labor is something worth celebrating. Kind of like that box of books you receive from the publisher or printer. Sharing that baby with family, friends, and fans all over.

You just want to hold it, smell it, and look at it for hours.

I take pictures of a lot of the food we grow, and you betcha…I take a lot of pictures of the books that come back to me after a long season of prepping, planting, writing, overcoming blocks, dealing with critters, and growing that beautiful piece of art.

As well we all should! ‘Tis a thing of beauty. :)

Another thing that is similar is the appreciation of all those who have gone before you. I have an immense appreciation for “real” farmers and those who labor to bring us food each and every day. I also have a ton of respect for the generations of farmers and gardeners before me who didn’t have gas-powered tools, but worked their butts off planting, growing, harvesting, and innovating.

As well, I have nothing but the greatest respect for other writers and authors who toil night and day to bring their story to life, and for those who have come before us and perhaps with nothing more than a pencil and piece of paper – no laptop, internet, or ebook platform – have stirred our hearts and minds immeasurably.

To gardeners, farmers, writers, and artists everywhere, past and present…I tip my hat to you and offer you my very best…cabbage! :)

Here’s to you!

Now get out there and work your fields!

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