Writing lessons from my garden

Lots of rocks. I use pots.

I swear that my yard is built on a gravel pit. So I use pots.

Growing a story is like working a garden. With patience and a regular investment of time, the results can be lovely.

  • The beginning of a garden–and a novel–is impulse-driven. What is the most exciting place in spring? The garden center, with wondrous rows of new plants. So many choices and colors! And yet I cannot buy everything. It’s the same with figuring out a new story. Ideas pop up everywhere. Which to choose?
Cheerful choices

Impulse-driven choices. I write–and grow– what I love.

  • Decisions are not always rational. Around and around I go with my cart. I like to think I have an overall plan for the garden–and a new novel–but not really. I end up going with my gut, buying the flowers (and story ideas) that grab my attention.
  • Love is the driver, structure is the support. I’ll be living with my new plants for a long time (if they live). Same with a story. The premise has got to capture–and hold–my interest. Then it’s up to me to tell it engagingly.
  • The needs of the plants are important. Shade or sun? Boggy soil or well-drained? For the novel, minding the expectations of genre, play a part. For example, a Romance needs the Happily Ever Ending. A Love Story, not so much.
A pop of color adds a lot

How did this red one get into my cart? But it works.

  • Sometimes I come home with plants that I meant to put back but didn’t. I have story ideas like that too. Surprises. Ideas I don’t think will work that suddenly do.
  • I plant everything in and then I water. And I will keep watering regularly–if I don’t become sidetracked and forget. Writing sidetracker, your name is Social Media.
  • Growth takes time. Progress comes in slow stages.  And suddenly, there are blossoms. I add up the chapters and find that I’ve amassed 20,000 words.
Sometimes there is a second blooming

Sometimes there is a second blooming

  • With growth come weeds, and pests, and the need to prune. It’s a joy to cut deadwood from a shrub, or to pull weeds. Editing my precious sentences out, not so much.
  • On the other hand, pruning brings new growth. The Spanish lavender, which was a mass of blooms in May, has new flowers in August–because I deadheaded. Similarly, discarded story ideas sometimes find new life later in the manuscript, or even in a different story.
  • I keep the nursery labels so I’ll know how to care for a new plant.  The writing application is to keep and back up files. Plenty of sad losses here. I’ve learned the hard way.

Laura Hile (1)


One thought on “Writing lessons from my garden

Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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