So, you spent the entire month of March hard at work sowing words in your writing garden. But now you have to tend that garden if you want it to flourish. For some, this task might be hard work, but for others, it might be a breeze.
If you’re like me, I decide on a whim to plant something, so I don’t do the prep work I need to. Goodness, I’ve decided to plant flowers and within 24 hours, I’ve hoed the grass out of a small plot, bought flats of flowers and popped them in, hoping I’ve added just the right amount of fertilizer and water, all the while admonishing my poor confused dog (who just wants to play) to STAY OUT OF THE FLOWERS.
Unfortunately, my flowers (and my poor attempts at vegetable gardening) never end up as gorgeous or bountiful as I envisioned. To be honest, the poor suckers are lucky to even survive! If they could talk, they’d probably beg me to take them back to where they came from.
So it is with us writers. We come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some of us prepare a lot in advance, sow our words, then tend our garden carefully. Some don’t prepare a lot, sow abundantly and wildly, and then gleefully (or not so much) work really hard to clean up the mess.
We won’t even talk about some of MY past failures of not preparing the plot, sowing seeds willy-nilly, then staring at the bug-infested, weed-choked, holes-dug-by-the-dog mess until I finally give up, scurry back inside and ignore the whole thing. Nope. We really can’t have any of that here in our Speedbo gardens!!!
Fertilize and Water
Nothing grows without some food. Water and fertilize keep your plants thriving. Tending your Speedbo garden is much the same. A computer, dictionary, plenty of rest, a healthy spirit and body, time, pen and pencil, research. All of this is part of nurturing those seeds and bringing them to life. If you sowed 50,000 words in March and then just left them stored on your computer hard drive without ever nurturing them, I’m afraid nothing much is going to happen. The GOOD news is that—unlike seeds planted in the ground—there isn’t a time limit on coaxing those seeds to come up. So if you haven’t done anything with your Speedbo garden yet, all is not lost. You can STILL work that field! Whoot!
Plowing and Hoeing
Once those seeds burst forth and start to resemble a well-organized garden with row after row of pretty green plants, you might discover that you accidentally planted corn with peas, tomatoes with potatoes, squash with cucumbers, and then there are the dreaded weeds that somehow always look exactly like the good stuff! Chop! Chop! Chop! Chop out unnecessary words, paragraphs, whole scenes of weeds, leaving them to shrivel up and die by the wayside. Yes, it sounds harsh, but all they’re doing is hogging the food and water that the good plants need to grow. Do it.
After all this chopping, you might discover long stretches of “skips” or plot holes in your Speedbo garden. Or in some cases, just a few bare hills. My husband’s grandfather was notorious for replanting the skips, which in a vegetable garden didn’t make much sense to me: if the peas didn’t all mature at the same time, it just made picking them that much more difficult. Again, good news for us writers. We can plant in the skips and plop a word or a whole sentence in the bare spots and with a bit of smoothing, I guar-UN-tee nobody will ever be able to tell the difference. All the words will mature together. Amazing, huh?
Scarecrows, Spraying, Dusting, and plain-out PICKING HORNWORMS
Don’t you hate planting something, then seeing your dog (or worse, the NEIGHBOR’S DOG!) happily digging a hole and plopping down in the nice cool dirt? Or the screeching sound of crows as they converge on your corn patch and peck away at your juicy corn? Worms on your tomatoes? Raccoons sneaking in at night? Deer trampling your vegetables? Ugh!
It’s the same with the interruptions and responsibilities in your writing life. Sometimes you have to put a scarecrow on your office door. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of an analogy for spraying and dusting your kids—maybe it’s best just not to go there.
And other bugs and worms? Oh, yeah. We know all about those nasty worms in the cyber-world, don’t we? Don’t leave your Speedbo words in danger of being eaten by worms. Back them up. Spray or dust those buggers with virus control. Don’t be squeamish… pick those hornworms off your Speedbo tomatoes by HAND if you have to. Come to think of it, I imagine when God dictated the words "little foxes that spoil the vine" to the scribes thousands of years ago, he had computer viruses in mind!
A well-tended garden yields fruit or vegetables. Sure, there are times of drought and calamity that no amount of care and knowledge can overcome, but generally a savvy gardener has more fruitful years than not.
I think we’ve established that I’m not a very productive gardener, but that’s because I don’t work at it. When I was a teenager, I hated working in the garden. When my mother said we had to work in the garden, I asked to go to the hayfield and bale hay. When told there wasn’t any to bale, in desperation, I blurted out, “Well, let’s go cut some then!”
It’s the same with my writing. When I tend the words I’ve sown, when I water them, fertilize them, search and destroy the grass and the bugs and replant the areas that need tending, my Speedbo garden flourishes.
And yours will, too! So grab your tools and get to work.
Check out Part I of How Does Your Speedbo Garden Grow?