Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Planting a Book

I have several hobbies, one of which is gardening. As I sat outside over the past few days, I realized just how similar writing and gardening really are!

There are certain seasons when things grow best in my garden, when the air is warm and the days are long. There are also times when my writing thrives and grows better than others. I can’t write at night – I’m very much a morning person. And I write best under deadlines and pressure. I love challenges like BIAW and NaNoWriMo.

When I start my garden, I start with a seed. I prepare the soil... loosen it, add a bit of fertilizer, some water and then gently press the seed into the ground. And wait. Some plants take only a few days to germinate, and others can take a few weeks. This holds true for my writing as well. I’ll have an idea, and I’ll think about it. Maybe I’ll write it down. Consider the characters. Think about the plot. And then I wait and see what grows. My subconscious is a funny thing, and happily works through ideas when I don’t even realize it, in the same way my garden grows without my constant supervision.

After the plants grown, I have to weed them. Prune them. Tuck their gangly branches into cages or weave them into guides to help support them. This is much like revising. You prune the scenes you don’t need, weed out the passive voice and the telling. You guide your words, your characters, your plot – helping them to grow in the strongest, healthiest way possible.

Finally, there is the harvest. I liken this to publication. To holding the end result of your labor in your hands. My book.

I love to garden. I love to write. Coincidence? I think not.

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