Friday, October 15, 2010
Working the Soil
For those of us who enjoy gardening, or at least seriously dabble in the subject, fall isn't just harvest time - it's also the beginning of the next year's planting. As trees shed their leaves we dig the soil for the tubers and bulbs that will herald the arrival of spring and the height of summer. Though we've a very small amount of planting space, we spent yesterday evening out in the gusty wind, digging through the leaves and preparing beds. Into our landscape went a hundred Asiatic 'naturalizing' lilies, twenty-five Tigrinum lilies, eighteen alliums, and three peony plants all in the space of an hour and a half of hard digging and clearing. When we lived in Shelbyville, that amount of planting and hard work would have disappeared into the landscape without making a visible impact. The differences between a five acre plot and a few hundred feet of planting space are appreciable.
The parallels between writing and planting have probably been mulled over a hundred-thousand times: seeds of ideas, fertile imagination, and all that kind of stuff. I can see the parallels, they're obvious. The most striking to me, though, is the act of burying something and hoping it will spring into glorious bloom when time and weather are right. The author sends off a manuscript, tucking it into the mail (electronic or otherwise) and it's gone from sight - all that remains is the hope and only time will tell if hope will come to fruition or ruin.
That's the feeling I'm confronted with as I put the final chapters of The Cinder Girl together. With each paragraph I wonder if what I've put together is right and good enough. I fret over putting my hard work in its furrow. There's still the hard work of editing to go, the covering over of the seeds, and after that there will be waiting through the long, harsh cold of submission and rejection. This is where the gardener and the writer must be most alike - both must have faith and patience.