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Friday, June 8, 2012

Taking a "Novel" Approach to Gardening


Here are pictures of my garden last year (in September):

We grew things that we didn't think were possible in the not-so-great Colorado soil of our backyard. Pumpkins, corn, and WATERMELONS!

As you might notice, the garden got a little out of control. The pumpkin vines went absolutely crazy, and it was hard to pick weeds when there was so much leafy ground cover to sift through. There's a beauty in it for sure, and eating watermelon from our own backyard was extremely satisfying...but it was basically a crapshoot. We had no idea in May if we'd end up with anything at all.

Here we are, so far, this year:






Climbing beans, climbing peas, carrots, spinach, onions, and cucumbers (left to right). We’ve got trellises and drip irrigation, water walls for the tomatoes (not shown)…all in all, we are determined to make things GROW. We want a good product and are being proactive about.  Not that we absolutely know what we’re doing—it’s kind of all a game, and the seductive power of gardening items at Home Depot has quite possibly set us up for disappointment. That said, we’re trying in a different way. A more organized way.

I feel like my writing approach has evolved as well. I feel more invested in doing the prep and follow-up work to create a better product—I’m trying, at least. Nearly three years from the time I first penned my first novel (a post-pregnancy-induced chick lit novel that I now realize was really just a love letter to food journalism, cooking shows, and Gilmore Girls), I finally feel like I’m learning how to craft a novel—how to go back after first drafts and add nuances that make for a richer harvest o’ story.

And my product is getting better for it. I'm all for experimenting, but it's become more important to me to really have an end-product that I think is query-worthy. I don't want to waste months on a random idea plucked out of the sky, without evaluating how it might fit into the marketplace, etc.


Now, of course I still love the idea of a little wildness...so I decided to sneak in a few pumpkin vines and herbs in a separate area to get my experimental fix in:

Sage and mint (both of which grown like fragrant weeds)

Pumpkins in the making

Has your approach to novel writing changed over your journey? Do you find yourself using the same methods with each project, or do you experiment with new approaches?






24 comments:

  1. Your garden looks amazing, Jess! I tinker a bit with gardening, mostly because my daughters love the idea of picking the results, even if they don't always like to eat it. With my garden it has been a lot of experimenting with what grows, since there's always a bit of shade at some point in the day, kind of like my writing, experimenting with what works!

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    1. That's the best part~ seeing the kids pick/eat the garden stuff! I definitely still experiment with my writing, but I'm trying to hone in on what my strengths/weaknesses are too :)

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  2. Hey Jess! Wow your garden turned out awesome! I've found that at this stage in my life, I'd rather plant and grow things than go to parties and loud places. lol. There's something so satisfying with it.
    I've definitely come a long way with how I write a novel from the first attempt. There's a method o my madness now ... and I think the biggest thing I've learned is to be patient. I tend to stick a few queries out there as soon as I'm done with a story, and it's just not ready yet. I guess there's always that hope that the right agent will love it anyway. :s

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    1. It's still really hard to wait on querying manuscripts for me as well. Every single time, though, I've ended up having a better version within a few weeks. I'm really going to dig in and not send letters early with my latest (that's the plan, anyway).

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  3. WOW, Jess--your garden is serious! What a harvest you're going to have this year!

    The lesson I learned writing my first book, and that I'm trying to be cognizant of now, is that I need to spend more effort revising (and possibly more time) than I ever did drafting if I want the book to be as good as I can make it. I'm trying to remind myself of this as I start to have moments of despair about the many imperfections of my current WIP!

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    1. I'm sure it's fabulous! I'm just starting to become more serious about revising as well. If we get a few pumpkins this fall, you can have one for Halloween :)

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  4. We have a tiny little garden for the first time this year, but I think we planted too much for the space we have.
    I'm reading a book, right now, that strikes me the same way.

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  5. For me, every book has been different. I learn more as I go along and, although I keep making mistakes, at lest they're not the same ones!

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    1. I switch up methods and try new things as well, but if I find an element that really seems to work, I'll try it again. You're right though--usually different stories (especially different genres) call for different approaches.

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  6. I love your analogy, Jess. I'm doing the same thing with my writing and WIP. Now if only I had the same luck with my pumpkins that you have. :)

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    1. Pumpkins are crazy-independent here. They practically grow themselves, which is nice if you happen to be a forgetful water girl (which I have been on occasion).

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  7. Oh, yes, it's changed during my journey. I except it to keep changing since I need to keep learning and trying new things to find out what works for me.

    Love the garden pictures. Is that your daughter? She a doll!

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    1. I'm still in a "learning the craft" mode as well~ I'm pretty sure the learning will never end for me. And yes, that's my sweetie of a daughter :)

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  8. Great metaphor! My novel-writing approach seems to change with every book. This time around the big change is Scrivener. It's wonderful! Plus I feel like I've learned so much about writing since I wrote my last book, and I'm trying to apply all of that this time around.

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    1. I haven't tried Scrivener *makes note to look into it* I've definitely made mistakes that help me with future manuscripts!

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    2. Scrivener is wonderful! There's a huge learning curve, though, so do it when you have time to play.

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  9. Uh-oh...I'm in trouble. My thumb is anything but GREEN! :)

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    1. Strangely enough, I'm horrible with house plants. I've never kept one alive for over a month.

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  10. I have garden envy. I'm pretty good at roses, but anything edible doesn't seem to click. I do a whole lot more planning up front in my writing. I think my pantser days are over.

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    1. I don't think I was ever a pantser, but I'm definitely more organized and do more prep work than I used to.

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  11. Great garden! I'm not much of a gardener at all. ;) With writing, I definitely have changed methods over the years, and it's been worth it!

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    1. Thanks! Switching methods and figuring out what works for me has been worth it on my end too!

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