How does your garden grow?

Rain, rain Go away

Rain, rain
Go away

It’s midsummer, days at their longest, nights at their shortest, sun-showered days when the garden bursts with blooms and buzzes with the hum of honey bees … Good job I have such a vivid imagination – the build up to my midsummer has included downpours (hailstones being a peculiar feature this June) and blustery breezes that have no right to show their faces between April and October. And it’s so chilly. The time of the year that’s supposed to help you forgive the cold, dark mornings and early nights of Winter just isn’t doing its job in 2015. The only clue that it’s summer is my garden, which, even though it has been battered and blown, continues to grow.

Picnic in June

Picnic in June

Perhaps it’s the unseasonal weather, but there’s one border, lying under the shade of a silver birch, that is shooting out some unidentifiable flowers. Or are they weeds? Neither I nor my husband can tell. Every time I walk past it, I pause and wonder: weed or bloom? Pull it out, or leave it to see what happens? Wait and see, my husband says. A weed is only a flower growing in the wrong place, my daughter advises.

Second edition cover

Second edition cover

After publishing the second edition of ‘Strong as Death’ earlier this year and ‘Selkie’ in May, I turned my thoughts to my next project. I have notes on at least four ideas that I hope to develop at some stage, so which to choose? None of them.

After lying dormant for over four years, I have gone back to the first novel I ever wrote, the first of a trilogy for 11-14 year olds. The space and experience I’ve gained in the intervening years has shown me just where the ‘weeds’ are in this novel, and I’m not afraid to pull them out by the roots, even though that may result in some major disruption to the perfectly lovely flowers around them.

Pink poppies June 2015

Pink poppies June 2015

Currently, I am reworking the first few chapters. At first, I tried vigorous snipping round the edges and careful pruning in the middle – there were parts I didn’t want to lose – but the result was a sort of lopsided, badly-trimmed hedge. So, with a huge dose of potent weed killer (aka the delete button) I have cleared the first twelve thousand words and have fertile, uncontaminated pages to sew with new life. My husband tells me that gardening is hard work, but I bet it’s got nothing on the proverbial blood, sweat and (not so proverbial) tears that writers shed.

As for those unidentified flowers, should they prove themselves undesirable, I will have no trouble telling my husband to pull them out – I’ll be far too busy growing my own new garden …


15 thoughts on “How does your garden grow?

  1. Happy trimming Julia. I find that I am a “constant gardener” with my novel. Just like my art, every time I make a pass I see something to “tweak”. Since I began seriously writing, it makes reading other books more difficult as I begin to almost dissect them. I love movies! But since my son went into film and I know more about production, it takes a really good one to distract me from analyzing the details. I am enjoying Strong As Death, usually a few pages at a time. You’ve done a good job of “distarcting” me. I only read books that I can find myself right in there with the characters. This one puts me right back in high school, dreading gym class and unable to flirt with boys. Thanks! I think. 😏

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like you, I find myself often reading books wondering how an author achieved certain effects (both good and bad). I do love it though, when I read something that just dreams me away to another place. I then have to read it again to see how the writer managed to do that to me 🙂

      I’m glad you’re still enjoying Strong as Death. I remember the hours and hours of trimming that took and am glad that, so far, it seems to have paid off as the feedback I’ve received to date is positive. I hope you continue to be distracted by it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s strange how those weeded-out-words often push their way through, stronger and healthier for their pruning, in new contexts. I never see deletion as a waste; every sentence I write is a learning opportunity, though when I first began writing with any passion, it was incredibly painful to kill any of my darlings. I shall forever think of them as compost now (good quality, I hope 🙂 ).


  2. Timothy Price

    We are finally getting summer tempts out here. My “official” thermometer that has a proper cover at 6 feet off the ground, out in the middle of the property with no buildings within 200 feet of it from any direction, reported 112º F (44.4º C) with 12% humidity yesterday afternoon at 17:30. Personally, I think it’s gone a little wacky. We have plants that don’t flower, and have lots of stickers that grow everywhere they are not wanted — we call them weeds. I wish you lots of productivity on your new old novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tim. I really don’t know how you manage in such temperatures, particularly with the humidity – if I had to choose, I’d go cooler every time. Later this summer, we will spend a few days visiting friends in Dubai on our way back from South Africa. I’m steeling myself for each step outside being akin to trying to breathe underwater in a boiling bathtub. Thank goodness for aircon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Timothy Price

        Fortunately, we have very low humidity, so the heat doesn’t feel so overwhelming. When we were in Ravenna, Italy in August 1999 it was 40º C and 98% humidity — that was miserable.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wouldn’t you know it, I’m doing the same thing now–pulling weeds out of my book. After getting a professional edit, I’ve even gone farther than the editor had…chopping off the beginning to get into the story sooner. If some of the weeds I pulled are needed, I’ll work them back in as flashbacks or memories. It’s amazing what one can find needs improvement when stepping back from a project for a while.
    Happy weeding, Julia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good news to hear about your work on your book – I will love reading it once you’re ready to unleash it.

      For me, the cost of a professional edit was invaluable and I learned so much from the process.

      I’m off to do some more slashing now – the new parts I’ve written need a good dose of weed killer and some very sharp shears 🙂 That’s when my building and joinery skills will start – dove tailing and planing all those joins and rough bits until the whole thing is seamlesss …

      Thanks for stopping by – it’s so good to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

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