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.
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.
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.
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 …