Why gardening is like writing

GardeningI would like to wax poetic about the joys of the word and of the earth, but in fact what I’ve realized after today’s early morning gardening exploits is that gardening and writing are both work. There is a short term sense of satisfaction: the plants are in the ground, the words are on the page, but that satisfaction only lasts a few weary minutes. What we really want to see are the end results – the plants in full bloom and ground cover spreading – just as we want to see the completed page mesh with all the others, the final product polished and perfect.

Perfect? I think that’s also a fallacy. Should the plants have been closer, arranged differently, different plants entirely? Maybe I shouldn’t have planted them there at all (the soil was very rocky). In writing we have the same concerns: is this the right story, the right point of view, are my chapters hitting the high points, is that the right word? And never, ever perfection.

Fortunately, time helps. The plants grow (usually) and the book is finished. We have distance and perspective and are left with that very special sense of accomplishment that makes all the agony worthwhile.

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