Digging in to Writing

I’m trying to get my writing restarted after the move. I’m not trying to finish Pixie Noir in 13 weeks any longer, as I had originally planned. I’ll be happy to get it done by the end of summer. The sequel to Vulcan’s Kittens will have to wait until fall. The program I was following along with covered this, though, talking about how life interferes, and it’s just as important to keep momentum as to hit a given time goal. That’s what I’m working toward. I’m certainly not going to feel guilty that my goal has had to be reset to fit around my life.

This morning I managed to get a bit of my garden bed dug. Only about 2’×3′ section, but it was the hard part, close to the steps, where some shrubs had been growing until he bought the house, and they were re-growing. So in order to put the bed in there, I had to dig around them, then cut them off below soil level to hopefully kill them permanently. Given that it’s rising to 90 today, I didn’t want to work on it too long, so once I’d finished the shrubs off, I stopped. The writing is going to be like that, I think.

Cedar Sanderson
Writing the sequel to this will have to wait until fall, now.

I’ll have to push myself, a sentence at a time, until it clicks and my story starts flowing again. It’s hard, but once I’m past the gnarly roots and stumps, the work will get easier. At least, until it gets harder again. I’ll set aside an hour a day, at first, maybe later once my house is more tidy, a few hours. And I’ll hack at the roots until I make it back into the nice crumbly action bits of the story with my hero’s dry sarcasm sounding loud and clear in my inner ear.

I can take this metaphor further. Later this summer, as the plant grow, I’ll be on my knees out there weeding. Just like editing a story, you want to carefully remove the unwanted bits without disturbing the good parts of the story that you don’t want to kill. And just like weeding, editing is a tedious and necessary part of writing if you want your story to flourish, or even to show under all those loose ends and plot bunnies. We can all think of books we’ve read that fell to the weeds, and we put them down thinking ‘that author needs a good editor.’

Much later, royalty checks are the harvest. The fact that they don’t need to ever end is where the garden metaphor falls down. Or maybe not. Replanting in spring is analogous to writing a new book. Or to a perennial flower spreading and making more blooms every year. Personally, I enjoy my spring rituals of kneeling in the garden, my hands in the good dirt. Like writing, it feeds something in me, and it gives me an end result I can offer to feed someone’s mind with. Body and soul, gardening and writing.

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