Acts of Faith

This time of year, most of my energy goes toward planting something. I have flower and vegetable gardens that have to be cleaned up, because I didn’t do it in the fall, cultivated, and planted. It takes a lot of time and effort, but in a few short months, when I’m eating that sandwich with tomato still warm from the sun, it’s worth it all.

I’m pretty sure the average person doesn’t see any connection between gardening and writing, unless it’s writing books about gardening. To me, they are very similar.

When the gardener plants a seed, she (or he) has faith that it will grow and flourish. To help assure this, she makes sure the ground it is planted in is fertile, adding compost and organic matter, and that it gets plenty of sunshine. The first tiny leaves emerge, and it is cause for a small celebration, if only a “Yay!” in the gardener’s mind. She waters it when it doesn’t rain, and makes certain it has the proper nutrients it needs. She is on the lookout for bugs and disease, and takes steps to prevent them at the first sight. Then, after what is usually a few months, she enjoys the fruits of her labor, either flowers or food.

A book is like a seed, a small germ of an idea in the writer’s mind. At some point, it grows strong enough to be written down, either on paper or computer. The more it grows, the more it needs, in the form of time and research. Any imperfections and continuity issues are ruthlessly deleted. It is spellchecked and grammar checked, beta read, edited, rewritten, reedited, sometimes multiple times. Finally, it is deemed ready, and the writer can enjoy the fruits of her labor: publication, reviews (hopefully good ones), and money, if she is very lucky.

I write in my garden, going over a story in my head while I’m pulling weeds, or staking tomatoes, or any of the other things that have to be done. I garden while I write, a pen and paper nearby to make a to-do list as things pop into my head. Writing and gardening are perpetually intertwined with me, two aspects of my personality that are not easily separated. Sometimes it is a struggle; the bugs win, the plant dies, the story withers in my head, but I keep going. Both writing and gardening are acts of faith on my part, faith that the seed will sprout and grow, faith that the story will grow and flourish. Faith that sometime I will be able to relax on my porch and read glowing reviews as I watch my lovely garden grow, with nothing more to do.

Alas, that last sentence is the biggest fantasy I have ever written! There is always more to do: another weed to pull, another story to tell, another flower to deadhead. But I have faith.

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