Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writing a book is like planting a garden - a guest blog by Mary Carter, author of "My Sister's Voice"

Today, I'm excited to host a guest blog by Mary Carter, author of "My Sister's Voice."

By Mary Carter

It’s Spring, a perfect time for gardens and books. I live in an apartment in New York City so I don’t have a garden to tend to, although I keep meaning to start a mini fire-escape garden.

Writing a book is like planting a garden. The idea starts as a little seed, but planting it is not enough. It has to be watered, weeded, and pruned before it blooms. A first draft is messy, the second draft is for weeding out the bits that don’t work. You can get your hands dirty, or you can wear gloves. It may seem daunting at first, but then you remember-- you have a number of tools at your disposal.

Some people plan out their gardens in great detail, sketching the area, plotting where each flower, or vegetable will go. Others may take a handful of seeds and sprinkle them with wild abandon. Some writers will draft meticulous outlines, others will simply throw an idea up in the air and see where it lands.

There is no right or wrong way, it’s whatever keeps you coming back. Seeing your work in print is a lot like sitting back and marveling at your beautiful flowers, or picking the vegetables you grew yourself. Both are organic, one comes from the ground, the other comes from within you.

They both come with pitfalls, just like a rabbit can sneak in and nibble on your carrots, self-doubt can creep in and eat away at your novel. Surprises are another thing they have in common. You may go out to your garden one day and see a tiny purple flower that you didn’t plant, or a patch of wild strawberries growing. Unexpected discoveries are a source of joy.

While writing a novel, little tidbits pop up that you didn’t expect. The plot suddenly thickens, or a character’s motivation comes to light because of something you learn about their background. And just like books are meant to be read, gardens are meant to be harvested. Pick some of the flowers, put them in a jar and enjoy them indoors as well. Make a salad with the tomatoes you grew yourself, add some herbs growing on your windowsill to a new recipe.

Keeping a garden is a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth it. The beauty you’ve created is not only there for you, but others can enjoy it as well. It’s a great way to spend a day, or a life. Every morning promises something new.

And it’s never too late. If your garden has been abandoned or the weeds have taken over, it’s okay, you can start again. Or, if you’d rather, stroll the neighborhood, or a bookstore, and enjoy other people’s gardens. Just don’t pick their flowers, unless they tell you it’s okay.


MARY CARTER is a freelance writer and novelist. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which is part of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

"My Sister’s Voice" is her fourth novel with Kensington. Her other works include: "She’ll Take It," "Accidentally Engaged," "Sunnyside Blues," and "The Honeymoon House" in the best selling anthology "Almost Home."

She has just completed "A Very Maui Christmas," a new novella for Kensington that will be included in a Christmas of 2010 anthology. She is currently working on a new novel, "The Pub Across the Pond," about an American woman who swears off all Irish men only to learn she’s won a pub in Ireland. Readers are welcome to visit her at www.marycarterbooks.com

Thank you so much to Mary Carter for her lovely guest post. And thank you to Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for this Book Blog Tour visit. Be sure to come back by on May 19th when I'll have a review of Mary's book, "My Sister's Voice."


Janel said...

What a wonderful analogy. Perfect for spring!

....Petty Witter said...

A perfect book for your blog given its garden theme.

curtissannmatlock said...

Love your thoughts. I garden and repeatedly find myself seeing the similarities between gardening and novel writing. So often my garden inspires me.