creativity & inspiration

22 July 2016

Gardening, writing, & a new old blog

And we're back.

(Not my actual garden. All pictures are from unsplash.com.)

I've been doing some gardening because I needed to not sit still for a bit, and actually get from the car to the house without navigating an obstacle course comprised mostly of brambles.

Weeding made me think about editing.

WEEDING AND EDITING

For the first stage of weeding I put on my thickest gloves and just rip everything I don't want out and throw it away. This doesn't take very long and it looks very impressive when you're done.

Editing equivalent: That paragraph can go. That chapter can go. Don't need those characters. Chop all that description out. Goodbye unnecessary romance, bad jokes, and how did this bit even get in here? I am so good at this!


The second stage of weeding is on your hands and knees with a trowel turning over every bit of soil and picking out the roots and stray bulbs and stones and anything else unwanted. This quickly becomes boring and can take several days. There is no noticeable difference upon completion. But it is necessary.

Editing equivalent: Correct three spelling mistakes, remove five stray commas, adjust that sentence, full stop here now, change seven words, find another spelling mistake, add a comma here...and that's the first edit of the first paragraph.


The third stage is covering the bed in mulch or cardboard or plastic and leaving it for a bit, to stop anything I might have missed  and prevent new weeds from seeding. This actually looks fairly neat and tidy now.

Editing equivalent: Put in draw. Ignore for weeks/months/years.

Fourthly and finally I return to it (weeks or months or even years later), dust it off, add all the new plants and flowers I've grown and take out the weeds that have somehow survived the previous actions.

Editing equivalent: Add a new character, chapter and three new twists that you thought about. Tweak a few more commas, fix 117 spelling mistakes (how are there still any left??!!).


It's finished now but, as with a story, you could go on neatening and tidying and weeding forever and ever.

Editing equivalent: It's finished now but, as with a garden, you could go on neatening and tidying and editing forever and ever.

The one big difference was that, while editing, I grow to loathe everything about my stupid words and predictable characters* but in gardening I'm visualising the beautiful (if by no means perfect) finished product and I enjoy working towards it.


*I've thought about this too. You know when you read a book in school and, while not ever your favourite thing it wasn't too bad. And then you go over and over and over it for weeks and weeks and weeks and by the end you know you will never hate anything more. That's what happens when you spend all that time on your story. Doesn't mean it's actually bad. And of course it's predictable, so is any crime thriller you read for a second time.


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