Sunday, April 4, 2010

SMALL CHANGE Contest Winner and How Gardening Is Like Writing

My friend Debra happily jumped in to help with the drawing for Sheila Roberts's new book, Small Change. We did it just like last time.

The winner is...

Marsha Sigman!

Marsha, please email me with your mailing address and I'll send you the autographed book ASAP!

Moving on to today's topic... (how's that for a transition?) I was working in the yard yesterday, and I got inspired to do a post comparing gardening to writing. Hubby Jim loves working in the yard and spends lots of time there. He's really good at it. I, on the other hand, don't usually enjoy yard work. At all. While reading
The Secret Garden might make me feel like tending my own section of our yard, working in the fresh air and nurturing plant life in the soil around our home, the inspiration never lasts. In this way gardening is nothing like writing to me because I love writing, I look forward to it, and I spend as much time as possible writing or doing something that is writing-related. Writing is my passion while gardening, for me, is a chore. (I hope those of you who love gardening will still respect me in the morning.) Still, I can be found in the yard on rare occasions, enjoying myself.

Keeping in mind that my gardening knowledge is oh-so-limited, tell me if you think I'm on to something here.

How gardening is like writing:

You can't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
When you're writing, everything will not simply fall into place. To fix plot holes, to build on your theme (and you may not even be fully aware of your true theme the first time through), or to be open to revision, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. How this is like gardening is a no brainer since, you know, plants live in the soil (a.k.a. dirt), and if you're going to mess with them...yeah.
You get it.

2. Not everything we grow is fabulous. Or even go
In writing, we sometimes get excited over something we've written that...well, sucks. These little darlings must die before they spread their little roots and choke the life out of our good stuff. Be willing to kill your darlings like weeds.

3. If you can't tell your weeds from your plants, ask for help.

Last year, I almost ripped out a dahlia thinking it was a weed. Luckily, I only garden on occasion because the little bugger blossomed into something beautiful before I got to it. I clearly need a second set of eyes in the yard. I also need experienced eyes to look over my writing.

4. If a plant is dying, maybe it just has to be moved--or nurtured.

When I kill my darlings, I often cut them out of my manuscript and paste them into a file labeled "snippets." They'll probably never see light of day, but they may make it back into the manuscript in a different spot. There's also the slim possibility that they'll take root and transform into a better idea with a little love.

5. Don't expect a miracle over night.

It takes time to make your yard beautiful. Same goes for your manuscript. Invest in your passion for the long haul.

Rather than leaving you with pictures of plants, I'll show you a few of my favorite yard sights.

This is Jim working in the yard. He's rolling out weed blocker before spreading mulch.

Isn't my little frog adorable? I saw him at the grocery store a few years ago and knew I had to have him. (Jim's story is similar, only we weren't at the grocery store and it was more than a few years ago.)

These are my yard chickens. I *heart* my yard chickens. Again, Jim's story is similar because I *heart* Jim too. Way more than the yard chickens.

What do you think? Is gardening like writing?


Stephanie Thornton said...

I love your list! I'm a huge fan of gardening- I'm growing a ton of veggies this year and oodles of flowers.

I'm jealous of your yard though- mine is still under two feet of snow!

Anastasia said...

I have always wanted to have a garden like "The Secret Garden" but I lack the talent and more importantly the patience.

Lydia Sharp said...

Good points!
I'm totally in the mood for spring after we had such a gorgeous weekend. All I have to nurture is one little houseplant, but hey, it's something.

Jemi Fraser said...

I definitely need help to see if something's a plant or a weed at times - although I'm getting better at it! :)

Love your frog!

Anonymous said...

We planted our tomato seeds yesterday. We have a huge garden and yes, lots of similarities to the writing journey! Thanks, Dawn!

Marsha Sigman said...

First of all...Thank you for the book!!! I am so excited! I never win anything and for it to be on Monday of all days! Whewwww

Also I am shocked to realize that writing is a lot like gardening...but I am not that great at gardening.

I really love your yard chickens.

Julie Dao said...

What a terrific analogy! I wish I were good at gardening, but I don't have my mom's green thumb. I admire people who can make beautiful and useful things grow, though!

Susan R. Mills said...

Great analogy! I don't like the work part of gardening, but I love the outcome, so in that way it's different from writing for me. With writing, I love the process as much as the end result.

Anonymous said...

I think it's totally like gardening. Especially if you compare weeding to rewriting. It's something you can't just do once. Great analogy.

Dawn Simon said...

Stephanie, Jim grows veggies too. I love eating the vegetables Jim grows! (I'm thinking I'm sounding like a really lame wife right about now...) I bet your flowers will be beautiful! But two feet of snow in April! Ugh.

Anastasia, I lack the talent too. THE SECRET GARDEN makes it sound so fun, doesn't it?

Lydia, I only have two houseplants and they were both gifts from my kids, so I have extra pressure to keep them alive. ;) (I'll have to tell a story about that later. I swear my daughter should be a stand up comedian.) Glad you had a nice weekend!

Jemi, I'm horrible at gardening, really. Weed-plant confusion is a regular thing for me. I'm glad you're improving! Maybe I will too!

Paul, I love tomatoes! Impressive that you grow them from seeds. We put tomato plants into the vegetable garden every year ("we" meaning Jim--hee!). I'm glad you see the gardening-writing similarities too!

Hi, Marsha! Congratulations!! Thank you for loving my yard chickens. They make me smile.

Julie, we're alike. I don't have a green thumb, either, but I admire people who do.

Susan, excellent point and I agree. While I sometimes enjoy being in the yard, I usually don't. Writing on the other the process and the end result.

Laura, you're right: weeding is like rewriting.

J.J. Bennett said...

Yea Marsha!

Kat O'Keeffe said...

I love that analogy! I think it's so perfect for writing! Especially that last one: Don't expect a miracle over night. So true. Writing and gardening both take a lot of time and a lot of work, but the payoff sure is beautiful!

beth said...

Congrats Marsha!

Great analogy!

I'd add:

Sometimes, it comes down to luck. You can prevent a drought or rainy season, just like you can't make perfect sunny weather happen. Sometimes, you have bad seasons, sometimes good.

Jackee said...

Definitely. Great comparison!

And like watching things grow, sometimes I lack the patience for nurturing a book for as long as it might take to write/revise it before I can show it to anyone.

And congrats to Marsha!

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, J.J.!

Thanks, Kat! :)

Beth, great addition to the list! :)

Thanks, Jackee!

Lesley said...

Love your little froggie! I have a green one that I bought at the :) Great post!

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Lesley! I love the frog! I'm sure he looks very handsome in green too. ;) Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

That frog is cute, and I agree with your list.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

In the spring it is certainly more enticing to be gardening than writing. At least for me.

Come check out my blog : WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS :

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Medeia!

Roland, gardening falls under the category "chore" for me, though I sometimes enjoy it in the spring or summer. I wish working in the yard was a wee bit more enticing--I'd help Jim more often! ;)

I'll be at the SCBWI WWA conference this weekend. If I don't respond to comments right away, you'll know why. :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Did you know there was a Murder Scene Blogfest going on now?

Come check out my entry from my fantasy Titanic, RITES OF PASSAGE :

Amy Tate said...

Oh how I wish I could enjoy the garden! I planted some rose bushes a few days ago, and I'm still paying for it. I have really bad allergies. Congrats to Marsha!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yes!! That was a great analogy!

Dawn Maria said...

Great post Dawn!

Dawn Simon said...

Roland, very scary!

Amy, sorry about the allergies. That's a bummer. But yes, yay for Marsha!

Thanks, Jennifer! I always enjoy your posts.

Thanks, Dawn!

beth said...

Very cool! Love the analogy--especially the last one, about giving it time to grow.

Dawn Simon said...

Thanks, Beth!

Ee Leen Lee said...

interesting analogy, though i think it depends on what sort of garden, if its a hydrophonics window box then thats a short story, if its a nursery, its where you grow your new stories. The compost heap is where new ideas come from.

Dawn Simon said...

I like that. :)