Upon returning from my wonderful week of visiting my daughters and their families in Texas, I was struck by how many similarities there are between gardening and writing. Although I don’t feel compelled to wear a sun hat and gloves while I write (I do sometimes turn on my sun box to help prevent SAD or wear my fingerless stretch gloves for comfort at the keyboard!), the two activities surprisingly have many things in common:
- We get to make something out of nothing and play “creator”, carefully placing seeds and seedlings or germs of ideas to tend and grow.
- As gardeners or writers, we see the products of our efforts. Without sufficient watering, coaxing, trimming, thinking, researching or writing, we can expect poor outcomes.
- In either activity, we often have to be brutal to get the desired results. Plants sometimes require cutting back, digging up and moving to achieve optimum growth, or to prevent vegetation from overtaking other struggling plantings. Writing stories and books often involves scratching sentences, sections and chapters, or possibly throwing out entire works to begin anew.
- Those of us who work with our hands in the earth to care for growing things or lovingly write stories, books or articles to portray the ideas in our minds can experience the same rewards upon fruition. The work is finished (for that moment). Leaves glisten, flowers sparkle and plants stand tall. Words flow smoothly across the pages, and the paragraphs express exactly what we saw in our minds’ eyes.
There were recognizable changes to observe in the garden when I returned home to Michigan. Clematis had exploded with dark purple blossoms the size of small dessert plates. Pots of nasturtiums merrily twinkled with trumpets of yellow, orange and red. Vines of pole beans wore blossoms and finally reached the apex of the sapling tee-pee supporting them. Bush beans hid tiny, baby beans peeking from among the leaves. The black-eyed Susan presented buds on the cusp of unfurling. I wish I could say that my writing indicated that much progress on my return, but it was a “vacation”, with a great deal to accomplish in a short time. Many of my experiences, observations, notes and memories will eventually creep into my stories and books I’m sure.
As for the plants like the delphinium and the lilies that are already beginning to die down for their annual rest, how does that relate to creations of the pencil, pen or keyboard? I think of that process as a connection to recharging our “writerly batteries”. We might feel compelled to set aside quiet time to people-watch, research, complete select training in the craft of writing or attend conferences.