Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Planting Seeds for Fruitful Writing

     After planting the garden last month, my son and I hovered over the fence everyday, waiting for the seedlings to poke through the soil. Then - viola! - there they were.
    Carrots, check
    Red-leaf lettuce, check
    Zucchini, check
    Sugar snap peas, nada.
    Uh oh.
    "Maybe we planted the seeds too deep," my son said to me as we dragged our trowels across the dirt, making another trough for the seeds.
    "Or too shallow and the birds ate them," I offered.
     Or maybe it had nothing to do with our planting skills at all. Maybe it was just another incident of Mystery Garden Fail. The pea trellis he built from metal stakes and wire the month before stood woefully bare. Now it had to wait another month to get any use.
    So we started over. We dropped the seeds into the trough. He brushed dirt over them and watered every night. On Day 13 of the Second Pea-Planting Venture, seedlings started popping through the dirt. Our relief was short-lived when, by the next morning, we found them chewed to nubs.
    Then last night I saw the culprit: a baby bunny hiding in the tiger lily patch slipped out from under the leaves and started chewing on the newest pea seedlings. Hmmm. So far he's content with those and the dandelion leaves along the border. We stuck a cheap wire fence around the lettuce and carrots. We've given up on the peas for now.
    Writing is like gardening. Sometimes we write and write and write, producing nothing more than words on a page. The sentences don't grow into paragraphs that grow into chapters that develop into a manuscript that tells a good story, no matter what we do. Or maybe we write a good story but it's not a marketable story. It languishes in slush piles. It collects rejections.
    Next spring we'll line the bottom of the garden fence with wire mesh to keep the rabbits from slipping under for their late-night snacks. We've learned from experience, and that sometimes we have to start over, reexamining our methods. But that's okay, right?
    Writing, even if it seems fruitless, is how we learn to be better writers.
    "All we can do is write dutifully and day after day, every day, giving our work the very best of what we are capable." - Madeleine L'Engle

18 comments:

  1. Bunnies are so cute...and so destructive!

    I'm always puzzled by the seeds that either germinate much faster or much slower than the rest. Kind of like ideas, I guess.

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    1. Exactly, Jenny! Planting and publishing are equally puzzling to me, too!

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  2. So true--your observations. Sometimes words grow and sometimes they stagnant. But continuing to plant them is the way to grow them into something much more.

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    1. I hope your own writing is fruitful, Tracy!

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  3. A silly rabbit pulling tricks! Great post, and thanks so much for stopping by to see me, Dawn.

    Kathy M.

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    1. You're welcome! Happy travels, Kathy!

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  4. Wonderful post! What you've said here is so true: we just have to keep writing.

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    1. If your other writing is as prolific as your blog-related content, you have a VERY fertile garden, Dana! Keep it up; I love your posts!

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  5. I like this: "Writing, even if it seems fruitless, is how we learn to be better writers."

    So true, and a wonderful reminder to keep soldiering on, even when frustrated or feeling like you aren't getting anywhere.

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  6. Such a great analogy. Our culprit years ago were deer. In one night they ate our entire garden, which in terms of writing would be like losing an entire manuscript. So very frustrating.

    Did we stop gardening? No. We built a deer proof fence, which has led to many successful harvests. Persistence and planning paid off... just as rewriting and reexamining our writing methods will benefit us as writers.

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    1. Oh, deer! That's disaster on a much larger scale! Glad to hear you overcame that obstacle, David.

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  7. Oh, those cute but pesky bunnies! Love the L'Engle quote. Great post, Dawn.

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    1. Thanks, Marcia! They ARE so cute, but oh so destructive.

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  8. Love your timely analogy. We just keep plugging away and learn from our mistakes, whether in gardening or writing. Slog.

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    1. Tedious work, gardening and writing, but necessary.

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  9. Beautiful analogy! We have an abundance of bunnies this year too, but our garden is behind a small fence (meant to keep our dogs out) and then behind a large chainlink fence (meant to keep the coyotes out and our dogs in) so the bunnies would have to brave two fences plus our dogs to get to the veggies and the fruit. They love all our dandelions we have out in our front yard . . .

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    1. Thank you! Wow - your garden is fortified! I love having wildlife about, but not at the expense of my fruits and veggies. Still looking for a happy medium; the bunny was munching away in the garden yesterday. He's staying away from the peppers and tomato plants. They must not be very tasty. He can much all of the dandelions in there he wants.
      Glad you stopped by and thanks for the follow!

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