Our garden is behind schedule this year. An uncooperative Minnesota spring combined with health issues conspired against us. We just managed to get the seedlings we’ve been growing in the laundry room planted this past weekend—they were starting to look a titch anemic under their artificial lights.
It was an all-hands-to-work sort of weekend to get the weeds managed in preparation for planting the more intentionally cultivated plants. I poked in a few hundred seeds, as well—sunflowers, nasturtiums, marigolds, cardinal runner beans. Presumably they are doing their invisible work under the dirt before they pop out to beautify it all. Should’ve done it weeks ago, of course. The arched trellis would normally be filling in at this time, but as it is…it remains bare.
But it is starting to look like something…or like it will be something. Our backyard sanctuary is just not to the point I’d hoped it would be in the middle of June.
My WIP—a middle grade novel—is in about the same state as the garden. Starting to look like something…or like it could be something…still bare in spots…so many weeds…seeds of great potential sown (at least I think so on my upbeat days.) It’s just behind where I hoped it would be at this point….
I’m struck by the number of writers who are also gardeners. I wonder if mucking about in the dirt, turning compost, pulling weeds, planting seeds, moving things around, constantly watering etc. tutors us in the skills needed to write. The dailiness alone is instructive. It’s so much easier to do some gardening/writing each day than to try and catch up on the weekend. Patience is important in both endeavors. Grand vision balanced with realistic expectation is similar in each case.
The hope that comes with the planting of seeds and seedlings, whether in a novel or a garden, is an exhilarating thing. The gentle tending required to coax those seeds and seedlings to life—well, that’s good, honest, sometimes mysterious work. There’s no getting around the fact that gardening and writing require time and hard work. Neither activity takes kindly to rushing; both benefit from constancy.
I’ve been composting for this book for three years now—researching, scribbling, meeting just the right folks, banging out a first draft etc. I’m not sure I could’ve sped that up, actually. Now that the raised beds of the novel’s structure are in and planted, my job is to tend the growth, work on supports for the floppier bits, plant a few more seeds, weed out the unhelpful parts…. I’ve got a design firmly in mind, yet I keep reminding myself to stay open and flexible. Sometimes (often?) things grow differently than originally planned.
As Katherine White’s The New Yorker column (and later her book) was titled: Onward & Upward In The Garden!