Saturday, May 26, 2012

Digging Deeper

This was a week of digging deeper.

Two of my secondary characters were feeling dodgy, so I worked on some writing exercises to develop them further. To remind you about my current project, I'm rewriting one of my YA novels as MG. Both of the characters in need of development were in the original, but they're quite different in my new book--and not just because they're younger. I had to get a more complete picture of each one, digging deeper into their histories and hopes. I think it was time well spent.

Today I worked in our yard, literally digging deeper. My husband, Jim, enjoys gardening whereas I enjoy looking at a yard that's nicely groomed.  :)

I went outside, full of energy. I was asking all sorts of questions, as I always do on the rare days that I work on my sections. I realized how different it must have been for Jim with me there. Gone was his solitude.

I said, "When I'm helping, do you feel like you're working with a four-year-old?"

"Yeah," he said, "though I was thinking a three-year-old."

That's when I quieted down (a little).

Jim's sections (most of the yard) are pretty. Today he mowed the lawn, trimmed branches, weeded beds, and spread compost. The few areas I'm responsible for looked like they belonged outside a haunted house. I'd claimed them after rereading THE SECRET GARDEN a few years ago. I love that book.

It's dangerous for me, though. Whenever I read it, I crave spots of land where I can grow things. Mistake, mistake, mistake! I burn out on gardening faster than black widow spiders burn out on boyfriends. I should not be trusted with plants.

That said, I had a great time cleaning up one of my little sections. Years ago, I planted a strong, Dawn-resistant ground cover that has vines with pretty little leaves. (I'd tell you what it is, but I have no idea. Some smart person at the nursery picked it for me.) Over time, I watched it spread and noted it thrived under my negligence.

Today, I cut away the dead parts. First I worried I'd do it the wrong way, but I relaxed when Jim wasn't concerned. Besides, every time I cut away more dead leaves, the nicer it looked. Even when I snipped vines that had seemed dead but turned out to still have perfect leaves, I figured those were like the darlings we kill when we cut a less-than-fabulous scene that weighs down our work. My plant hacking reminded me of editing before I knew what I was doing as a writer. There's something to that "ignorance is bliss" cliché. Knowing I was playing instead of crafting brought joy. It reminded me to not take myself too seriously. I don't know about you, but my best writing happens when I'm having fun. I believe joy shows up on the page.

Joy showed up in my yard, too. I'd show you a picture, but without a "before" shot...well, very few people on the planet would find my gardening impressive. Just take my word for it: it looks better.

How is your writing going? How 'bout your gardening?

Just for fun, here's a song by Regina Spektor. My singing is even worse than my gardening, but if I could sing well...I think I'd like to sing like Regina Spektor.


Anne Gallagher said...

I did yard work yesterday too, I had to dig in and dig out a bunch of plants, then take down the dead branches. I hurt my neck, (not too bad) but still have so much more to do. If it's anything like your metaphor to Kill my darlings, I guess I'd better get back to work on my rewrites.

Have a great weekend.

Jess said...

First of all, thanks so much for posting that song! I love it, but never knew who sang it~ she does have a fantastic voice :)

I'm kind of the same way with gardening...I'll never live up to my husband's neat rows and elaborate climbing trellis pieces. He got really annoyed last year, because I planted corn and pumpkins in my garden and they did better than "his" garden. It drove him crazy trying to figure out why his plants, with so much time and science put into them, weren't growing as well.

I blamed it on overwatering from his fancy tube-watering system :) That didn't get a laugh.

Barb Davis-Pyles said...

Love this post! Love the song, too! I had the wonderful "blessing" of growing up in a family nursery business. While it hasn't seemed to help my gardening skills one bit, I do find that some of my best writing ideas come to me while I'm digging in the earth. And although my father cringes when he sees my landscaping, he thinks I'm okay at this writing thing.

Dawn Simon said...

Anne, I'm always impressed when I hear about the things you do in your yard. I hope your neck feels better soon!

Jess, I love that song, too. My daughter put it on my iPod a while back. I get all my best music from my kids. :) I love the corn and pumpkin story! You got a laugh from me!

Barb, you are hilarious. So funny about your dad cringing at your landscaping! Of course he knows what a talented writer you are!

Robert Guthrie said...

"I believe joy shows up on the page." I LOVE that!

J.L. Campbell said...

The good thing is that you're enjoying what you're doing and that's important. Time away from writing brings us back with a fresh eye.

Angelina C. Hansen said...

Years ago I wrote a blog post about writers and gardening. So many similarities, we could write a novel. ^_^

I'm revising my YA Historical by adding another POV character and though it's really hard work, I am definitely having fun. I agree that joy in our writing translates into joy on the page.

Best wishes with your YA to MG WIP adventure, Dawn!

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about gardening, but I see how it can be analogous to writing.

Faith Pray said...

I love the idea of creating a walled garden, all hidden away and perfect with masses of fragrant old rose bushes and whatnot, but I completely lack the determination and drive to garden. I don't really like weeding, or watering, for that matter. So, you see, I'm not a very good candidate. That's why I love to read. I can pretend I'm Mary Lennox, and then I feel good about my garden for awhile. I hope my writing fares better with my work and weeding. I loved your analogy, best of all that you found yourself playing. Isn't playing the best way to work?

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I hired a company to redo all of our beds and to plant some trees. I do have to water everything every day for two weeks.

This is the first project we have done on the house that hasn't been related to a weather incident.

I've been sitting on the porch editing and revising for the last week. :)

Al said...

All I can say is thank goodness winter makes the grass grow slower!
My writing is creeping towards completing another draft of my WIP.

Dawn Simon said...

Thanks, Robert! It's so true, isn't it?

J.L., I agree!

Thanks, Angelina! There are so many similarities! Cool that you're adding another POV character. I think challenging and fun is a good thing in writing.

Hi, Medeia! True--I think so many passions can be analogous to writing.

Faith, I'm with you!

Sharon, how nice to write somewhere you can admire your yard!

Al, congrats on getting closer to The End!

Dawn Simon said...

Angelina, pardon my verb tense: I was thinking of "challenging + fun" as a singular item. :)

Jay Paoloni said...

I enjoyed The Secret Garden too, although I was very young when I read it.
My gardening? Oh I so much wish I had a garden...

Dawn Simon said...

Jay, I bet you'd enjoy it as an adult, too! I love Frances Hodgson Burnett books today just as much as I did as a kid! I hope you get your own garden soon! :)

Old Kitty said...

Thanks for the intro to Regina Spektor! I have to admit this is the first I've heard of her but then I still refuse to leave the new romantic phase of the 80's! LOL!

Oh I'm a very laid back gardener! So yay for you for snipping and trimming and cutting - plants do like this sprucing every so often!

May you continue to have fun and joy with your art and garden!!

Take care

Janet Johnson said...

I have a black thumb, so I really like plants that thrive through negligence. :)

And amen about finding the joy in writing. I think it shows, too. Currently working to find it again.