If you'd like to read my other entry on the matter, I think it's on my defunct blog, so it's been a while since I wrote on the topic. I am struck, each time I do some gardening, by how informative it is about life--especially about my writing. Here are a few little kernels of what I learned yesterday:
1. Get a problem out by the roots, and it won't come back. I can't tell you how many times I've pulled the leaves off a weed, only to see it come back in a week, stronger than ever. In my writing, I often tend to lop off a little scene that is giving me a sign of some bigger problem, rather than deal with the bigger problem. When I go back through the novel or play, though, the problem is still there. It won't go away until I take out the true cause, and that requires digging. (It also leads to the next item.)
2. Get a shovel, and use it. When one revises a novel (or play), one might be more eager to fix a comma splice than delete an entire character, or scene, or situation. One might not want to admit the climax stinks, or that the whole beginning premise is absolutely lame. But if one doesn't take a hatchet to the work--or if one isn't at least willing to hold the hatchet out there, looking for places to hack--the real substantive changes will not occur, and the spine of the work is going to be weak.
My last piece of advice comes thanks to the neighborhood dog, who detests when I am weeding anywhere near the back fence, and thus barks savagely non-stop, hurling himself at the fence (which shudders) when I get quite close to it. So, here it is:
3. It is very hard to weed with a dog barking savagely in the background. It makes me think of bursts like the NaNoWriMo concept, to write a novel in a month (it's coming up in November). If I have a huge deadline looming, if I feel as if a dog is barking at me over my shoulder, not only will I work less efficiently, but I will be miserable while I'm doing it. That stupid dog made gardening a chore when I normally would like to do it. Surely, after years of living here, it has to know I'm not coming through the fence, and surely I know it won't get to me, but the dreadful sound make me shudder (like the fence), and they set my hair on end. Not a good way to garden. Not a good way to write.
It's almost fall, almost time for all the plants to take a breather--and that's good, since I have two classes starting in less than a week, and two more starting mid-October. Lots to do!