My husband and I moved to a new house two years ago. The first year we were clueless about how to handle the garden. Let’s just say I’m an “indoor gal” and my husband has been termed the “mushroom” for similar reasons.
Now our garden still looks like a mess, it’s a mess in process…
Hmmm…not unlike my current editing project. I like to see it as mess with potential.
Along the way the lessons I’ve learned about my garden could just as easily apply to my manuscript:
Just do something. We spent time formulating the perfect garden arrangement until we realized we were victims of the infamous analysis paralysis. Nothing in our garden was going to look pretty until we started making some decisions.
On a recent loop someone mentioned that they didn’t have time to write at this a stage of life but read many craft books and kept a folder of information. I’ve been there. Its like spending hours pouring through the Harris Seed catalogue while your garden lies untended and neglected.
Its your garden. The former home owner had cultivated an all-white garden. It was beautiful, full of daisies, lilies of the valley, jonquils, and carnations. But it wasn’t our garden. It didn’t fit us.
Likewise, no one else can write your book. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged. Remember that God gave you this story, not someone else. Likewise, you can’t force yourself into a mold that doesn’t fit who God created you to be.
Mess comes before beauty. Last year we did some weeding, a process that takes continual repeating. Then we covered the ground with mulch. Not attractive.
Think of your first draft. Sometimes we have trouble allowing the ugliness, forgetting that what we are working with is the bare mulch. I let perfectionism rear its ugly head.
Throughout the messy period, keep your vision alive. Without a vision for what your story can be there is little motive to slog through. Think of the finished product. What are you aiming for and allow yourself to celebrate progress along the way as things get less messy.
Be willing to prune back hard. When my husband and I attended a seminar on bonsai, we learned that the best bonsai artists are willing to risk overpruning. They cut back, often until there is only one main branch.
Editing for me has been a heavy rewriting process. So far the removal percentage has been high, higher than what I’ve kept. Attempting edits the first time I was tempted to just ditch this manuscript and start something new.
But I take a lot of hope in the gardening process. Because sweat pouring down brows, dirt-encrusted fingernails, aching knees are all the beginning of what has the potential for beauty. It will need lots of tending and the process of making the garden your own often takes multiple years. As I watch the daffodils and jonquils pop up in my garden I’m hopeful of small beginnings.
What does a season of new beginnings mean for your writing? Is there anything you want to change in your writing life this spring as a writer in process?
Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She also enjoys reading and reviewing books for The Title Trakk, a Christian review site.