Planting the words

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Scouring dirt from my fingernails
Mood: Soiled

The garden is finally in. Took a couple extra weekends because the ground was so wet and cold that nobody — not me, not XY, certainly not tomatoes — wanted to be in the dirt. But as of today, all the chicken poop is scattered, all the starts are started, all the stakes are stuck through the hearts of vampires are ready to bear the weight of future produce.

Jessa Slade garden plot

Which means it’s time for this spring’s edition of “All the Ways Writing is Like Gardening.”

I’ve noted before, in past editions of ATWWILG, when I read authors’ bios, a lot of them comment about their gardens. I’ve hypothesized that writing is such a head-bound pursuit, writers need an excuse to get outside and connect with life. Gardening fulfills that need to immerse ourselves in the real world — while still letting our minds wander in our storyworlds. Sneaky, I know.

1. Gardens and stories don’t look like much at the start.

Jessa Slade potted plants

As the picture above demonstrates. Baby plants and blank pages aren’t very impressive. They are vulnerable to the late-night predation of slugs and self-doubt. But they are also so fun and exciting at this point; just think what they could become! Their potential is limitless (especially in the case of cherry tomatoes) and they are still easy to weed around. But just wait for high summer when plants and pages have exponentially run amok.

2. Gardens and writing will bug you sometimes.

Jessa Slade garden spiders

We do have some terrifying spiders that may or may not be black widows, brown recluses and hobo spiders, but these yellow cuties are infant common garden spiders (sometimes called diadem spiders, which sounds so pretty). In the spring, they are as numerous as the words in a very good writing session. (Although after a few weeks, they will eat each other down to just a few; much like the words after a very good revision session.)

For me, walking face-first through a spider web and getting stuck in my story engender very similar responses: lots of swatting, swearing and skin-crawling. (Ack, it’s on me, get it off, get it off!) Nothing for it but to brush away the sticky strands holding you up and continue onward.

3. Don’t forget to play.

Jessa Slade Monster Girl
It’s possible — likely? inevitable? — that not everything you find in the garden and in the story will be what you expected. Take, for example, the vast variety of spherical throwing objects the garden apparently sprouted over the winter. Who knew spherical throwing objects could breed and bear offspring? There’s no other explanation for why there are so many in my backyard. Digging them out of their various nooks and crannies was super entertaining. (And part of the reason I have so much dirt under my nails; Monster Girl wasn’t going to have ALL the fun…at least not when the fun came at the expense of my strawberry bed.) Take some time to enjoy the weirdness and see what might work better than what you planned.

Jessa Slade peonies

So what’s growing in your garden — or your word garden — these days?

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