Friday, May 1, 2015

What Gardening is Teaching Me About Writing

I've only had a yard for a few years now.  This year I’ve successfully grown grass (it is much harder than you think) and some of my flowers survived the winter and bloomed in vibrant violets, pouty pinks, sunny yellows, and stripes.  Some plants, including my favorite, died, unable to handle the clay and slate soil and the bitter winter that lingered longer than usual.

                So what has this taught me about my writing?

1.       You will screw up, and it’s okay.

Some plants need direct sunlight, some need stupid amounts of water, some need proper drainage. You will forget something and a plant may shrivel into crunchy, brown, unrecognizable crap.

You will learn from these screw ups. You wouldn’t have learned the lesson without trying

How to apply that to writing? WRITE!

It won’t always work out as you imagined and occasionally you end up with crap. But you’ve learned from it.

2.       Weeds are everywhere

No matter how many times I pluck dandelions from in between the tomatoes they keep showing up each week
How to apply this to writing? EDIT!

You will always have some errors or things that need to be tweaked or completely overhauled.  Sometimes a backhoe is the only answer… metaphorically of course.

3.       My yard will not win any awards, it will not show up in a magazine, things are not perfect, but I love it.  It is mine and I made it. There are birds and color and life. I’m proud of the work I’ve put in.

How to apply this to writing? WRITE WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!

Don’t write for the current trends. If you love picture books and chapter books don’t try to write a romance thinking that is where the money is.  Write what you love and it will show in your product and you can be proud of it.

4.       My daughter has seen my work and decided to have a garden of her own on the side of the house. She has grapes and tomatoes and strawberries.  There is no fruit yet, but she is putting in the work.
How to apply this to your writing? INSPIRE OTHERS!

You want to inspire your readers and that’s great but you may not be published yet. You can still inspire others and be inspired in return. Join a critique group. Volunteer at your local library or school. Start a blog and push positivity out into the world.

So I’m still learning. I can’t even remember the names of all of the flowers I’ve bought. But I’ve researched what will work in my location, just like I research what works in the children’s market.  I talk to neighbors about their yards, just like I talk to other writers about the market. 

There is a cycle to the publishing industry just as there is a cycle to the seasons. Timing is very important to make things work.  Sometimes luck comes into play.  But keep at it.  There are very few instant fixes. Bad weather and bugs can frustrate you but if you keep at it your work will pay off. Whether the goal is a ripe tomato or a book on the shelf, you can see the fruits of your labors if you are willing to work and work for a long time without giving up.