New Growth: Editing and Gardening

I want to thank Sharon Overend for republishing my post from April of last year4 Ways Gardening is Like Editingon her blog about writing. Sharon has published short stories and poetry and is currently working on her first novel.

When Sharon asked me to contribute a guest post to her blog, she wanted something sooner than I could get her something new, so we discussed republishing an older piece of mine. The piece comparing editing to gardening came to mind immediately as it had been on my mind a few days earlier.

My new house has a pool, and although the pool was kept up well by the previous owners, my guess is that it had not seen frequent use over the recent past. Nearby evergreen shrubs had spread, encroaching onto the pathway next to the pool.

My kids are young and I expect them to tear round the edges of the pool at high speed; shrubs in the path are dangerous. So, I spent a day hacking at the shrubs, trimming them back to behind the edge of the path.

To clear the path, I had to saw off limbs that must have first been allowed to break the confines of the flower bed years ago. If you look at the shrubs now, you will see exposed, raw edges of many small and medium-sized branches, and it is ugly.

Ugly with potential.

Once the plants grow to cover the wounds, they will look fine. Nature will take care of the growth.

I have to be the force of Nature with regard to my novel. I have spent the last year pruning and shaping the large scale edits of my novel. I now have some spaces in the book that need filling, places where I need a scene to complete the picture. The gaps are more obvious after the pruning; the novel has a more unfinished feel than it did a year ago. But,the gaps are intentional, spaces of potential, waiting for the new growth that will give the complete work a more pleasant shape.

In the meantime, I am enjoying seeing a past blog post have a new life on Sharon’s blog. If you missed what I had to say about location, dormancy, treatment, and facing reality, click here and have a look.

3 thoughts on “New Growth: Editing and Gardening

  1. Patrick Ross says:

    Oh, I know that feeling, when the pruning leaves you something that now seems too thin. Ugh. But what you’ve pruned doesn’t belong, and you’ve given yourself room to grow what does. Best of luck to you in that new growth, Kate.

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

      Thanks, Patrick.
      I know that what I have as a core now is solid – and combined with the new material, I am very excited to be working right now.

  2. […] a lot of work sketching out more plot elements and discovering weaknesses in my characterization. I pruned heavily after that class, leaving gaping holes that need filling with new […]

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