Monday, May 24, 2010

The Writer as Gardener

Wow. What a stimulating post and discussion about the structure of a novel. While you all contemplated writer as architect and looked upward, I was down in the dirt. If you build a house, you eventually have to deal with the dirt around it before the weeds take over. And this weekend we did just that. Drought tolerant, native plants and all that. When it comes to a green thumb, mine is colorless. But a writer friend of mine is a genius. Passionate about plants and semi-retired from her landscaping business, I begged her to work her magic on our place. Like watching a great movie or reading a riveting book, I was carried away by her production. Saturday we worked on mounds and pathways. Yesterday the fun part came as she picked only the best and economical plants at the nursery and then came back to our house, arranging and rearranging their locations until it was just right.

We live on a the edge of a park, so neighbors kept walking by with their dogs and oogling. Come to my place, they begged. We're overrun by weeds. Margy smiled and later told me she only works with people she likes. At age seventy, she's earned that right. At one point during the day, I thought about how I wanted an editor like Margy. One who could work magic with my manuscript. And then I stopped myself. No, Margy the gardener is writer and editor all wrapped up in one. The writer brings the magic, the editor helps with the pruning. Every time I look at our pathways and plants, I will try to remind myself of how much Margy loves her work.

Who in your life loves their work? Get out your slide ruler today, but don't forget the gardening gloves.


  1. Lovely image of you out there toting things around, Claire. I tend to view my flower beds the way I view my writing--what needs to be revised? I'm no green thumb, but I do enjoy some gardening, especially in the spring and fall when I can correct things. Were plants too crowded? Move something. Is the Iris bed going nuts? Thin it out. Does the Lupine need more sun? Put it over there.

    And for heavens sake, why did I ever introduce bee balm? Like a character who comes to life on her own, it's taking over everything.

  2. I'm like you, Marsha with the lack of green thumb. I used to enjoy playing around in my tiny flower bed in Maine, planting whatever I liked and seeing what grew back. I, too planted bee balm and some other yellow puff ball flowering plant that are taking over.
    Now that I live in two places I no longer have any interest in gardening--way too much to keep track of. Though in Savannah things grow and grow and grow--kind of amazing really.

    Maybe my lack of gardening coincides with my lack of publishing. I've always liked the gardening metaphor, and it's such a goal oriented activity with somewhat of a surprise result.

    I envy you, Claire for all your homing skills. You must have an amazing place!

  3. I had Margy's help and we put in a drip system. I could use a drip system of energy around 3pm every day.