Monday, April 4, 2011


I spent the better part of Saturday morning hauling mulch and raking compost into seed beds for a community garden at Owen's elementary:

When we came home around 1:00 p.m., Owen wanted to get started on our own garden. As some of you picked up on Twitter/Facebook, I was sore. Nine hours of hard gardening is rough on a body that spends most of it's time walking around a classroom/sitting in front of a monitor.

Then we planted seeds because they don't grow in their little paper pouches.

If you smelled the analogy coming, here it is:

Your stories will do nothing if you don't share them. I know there are some who read this blog, write, and don't submit their stories. I know you are out there.

Do it.

Just like the seeds in the garden, some stories won't sprout. Some will have to be thinned out. Some will grow (and with a little watering--er, revising) become amazing little things. Some will feed you. Some will provide beauty.

But if those seeds stay in their little paper pouch, nothing.

Our garden is better (more weed-free/greater yield) each year because I've learned how to make it better after years of trial and error. My writing has improved since I scribbled my first (rather awful) story back in the fall of '96. I didn't plant any seeds for another ten years.

But boy, am I glad I did.

I sprinkled some more story seeds this weekend. I'll mention them later after this rather heavy-handed metaphor wears off.

Have a great week.


Tony said...

I give this same advice whenever I encounter a writer who doesn't submit. Hell, i started submitting stories *long* before I should have, and in the process probably made a few editor's eyes bleed (and not in the good way). But I always saw it as an important part of the process.

In terms of actual gardening, I hope to get back to my own veggie garden this year. Last year I only planted some pumpkins that didn't grow.

Aaron Polson said...

Same here (submitting too soon), but it's how I learned. Hell, I'm still learning.

Do you have problems with squash bugs? All of our pumpkins and zucchini were wiped out by the little bastards last summer.

Cate Gardner said...

Sod the analogy, I just need someone to come and sort out my weeds before I get lost in an actual forest.

Thinking about it, I might never mow the garden again. It would be wonderful to have my own forest. Perhaps I could grow monsters there.

Ben Godby said...

I've got hundreds of rejections. But now, I've got three sales, and I've just put out an e-book. That last I could never have done without the confidence that I built by having my soul repeatedly stomped on by editorial formalism, which eventually led to better craft and a few dollars in my pocket.

Raking that mulch is hard labour. But you're right: one day, them's going to be some good veggies.

Danielle Ferries said...

I've become more interested in gardening in the last few years and am actually remembering to water/feed/tend to the plants these days. I also get some great ideas for stories while I'm gardening.

Milo James Fowler said...

The metaphor is a good one. However, I'm glad I didn't start submitting for publication until 2009. My '96 stories wouldn't have stood a chance. But then again, I've learned SO MUCH in the past months; maybe I would've learned it SOONER if I'd been submitting these stories back in college...

Aaron Polson said...

Cate - That would be wonderful (the monsters)

Ben - Hopefully...if the rabbits don't have their way.

Danielle - Physical labor always seems to bring the ideas. Don't know why...

Milo - I think each writer just has to get to a place where he or she wants it. It happens differently for all of us.

Simon Kewin said...

Great advice. May all your seedlings bloom.

Andrea Allison said...

I submit...maybe not as much as I should but I put myself out there. At least I can say that.

Katey said...

It's amazing how the improvement in writing becomes exponential after you take that step, too. Well said, sir!

Natalie L. Sin said...

Fuck, I have to weed the garden. And I mean that quite literally : P