Gardeners and Architects

I’m working on the outline for my new trilogy, and it’s not going well. Summer is such a distraction, isn’t it?! The muse is not amused. I dug this post out of the 2015 archives to give me some inspiration. I hope you enjoy it.

***

When I plunked down to write my first book, Myths of the Mirror, I was on a mission of discovery, led by the muse and sheer inspiration.

I had no plot in mind beyond a mental sketch of a couple things that could happen maybe sort of somehow. It was all incredibly vague, but what did I know? Nothing. I wrote like a woman obsessed, relishing every moment of my creative forage and traipsing along behind my characters down whatever path they chose to wander.

Halfway through my journey, a secondary character whom I was in the midst of killing off stood his ground. With the unwavering support of his companions, he argued that he should not only survive but should become a main character. “Oh, okay,” I said, and skedaddled back to the beginning of the book to start over. That happened a lot.

A year later, once every character had their say and did as they pleased, my masterpiece was almost 190,000 words long. Ta da! Ready to celebrate, I enlisted a few courageous readers.

Uh oh.

For the next two years, I peeled away words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and whole chapters! Deleted. Recycled. 65,000+ words forever gone. I felt as though I’d been flayed.

Then an editor wielded a red pen and lopped off another 4,000. After all the anguish and suffering, I had to finally admit it – I had a much better book.

Nature-Multicolor-Flowers-Garden-Summer-Bees-Depth-HD-PhotoGeorge R. R. Martin separates writers into Gardeners and Architects. Gardeners are discovery writers, planting seeds and digging around in the dirt of writing because they can’t wait to see what grows. They thrive on a process that is full of surprises and let their stories develop organically. To them, outlines feel like straitjackets, stifling the natural unfurling of character and action.

images (22)At the other end of the spectrum, Martin’s architects are outliners. Structure is key. Charts, graphs, and spreadsheets abound. Every step is planned in advance: the story’s try/fail cycles are mapped, the hero’s journey arcs through its phases, the turning points and pinches are set in stone. For outliners, the steps of each plot and subplot form the stairwells in a skyscraper. An architect has an eye on the penthouse and knows how to get there.

awesome-tree-houses-to-live-in-plextm4bAfter my trials and tribulations as a gardener, I brushed off my hands and applied a bit of architecture to my stories. I wouldn’t say I engineer skyscrapers – that’s still too much concrete for me. In my mind, my method is more akin to building tree-houses, leaving plenty of space for nature and play.

I plot out the story’s threads and set the characters off on their journey, letting them be who they are. Occasionally we have to negotiate and backtrack, but overall they cooperate. It’s collaborative; they know their goals and I know mine.

My guess is that most authors engage in a little gardening while they construct their cottages, fortresses, and stone towers. Or they have a few fences to keep the growing things safe from rabbits. How do you bring stories to life? Are you a Gardener? An Architect? A builder of tree-houses?

175 thoughts on “Gardeners and Architects

  1. dgkaye says:

    Loved this Diana, and the analogy. And wow, you are already working on a new trilogy! You my friend are a master architect! Yes, I do find it difficult to apply myself in the summer months. For years I’m in revisions and edits in the summer, but now I’m having a hard time focusing on the book writing game. Hopefully my mojo will kick in soon. I might be a bit like you, a sprinkling of an outline and then let the gardening begin. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not finding the mojo either, Debby. After writing this post, I decided not to worry about it until September. This summer is here to be enjoyed, right? Yes, great description – a bit of an outline and then let the creativity take over! Have a wonderfully playful month!

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Thank you Diana, and enjoy your well-deserved time off. We have to take in some ‘living time’ and most likely, it’s when you’re doing something else that the muse comes knocking! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. mylilplace says:

    It is such a pleasure to catch a glimpse into your writing journey, Diana. Thank you for sharing it with us. I always wonder what it must be like to write books after books. Talk about GRRM, I am in complete awe of him. I just fervently hope he gets to complete the Song of Ice and Fire series soon. I don’t know how much longer I can wait…:(

    I wish you all the best with your new trilogy. Yes, summer is always such a distraction with the beautiful sunny weather that begs to be enjoyed and perhaps with visitors too. 🙂 Don’t be too hard on yourself. You have a warrior of a muse, if I remember correctly from your past post. I have no doubt you’ll get through it together. Have a great weekend, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I heard that GRRM wasn’t planning on completing the book series – hopefully that’s just a rumor… And yes, I’m thinking of telling the muse that nothing much is going to happen until September. Summer is going by too quickly to spend the rest of it nose to the laptop! I hope you are enjoying you August… it will be over before we know it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • mylilplace says:

        He isn’t planning on finishing it?! OMG…I need to know his real thoughts on how this needs to end. Hahaha…Oh well, at the end of the day, it’s his call. Agree with you on summer just flying by. You can always resume writing again in September for sure. My kids asked me yesterday to spend more time playing with them and I intend to do that with the rest of the summer. 🙂 Take good care and have fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed reading about your process. Diana. You are amazingly prolific. I employ a bit of both. Sometimes my thoughts are not linear enough to create an outline, sometimes I have a story perfectly mapped in my head. I have several ideas at the moment that i have written down for later, hopefully I will find the time. Happy writing, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully shared! I agree, labors in love, most often turn a dream into a masterpiece.❤❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Kaye.. Debby Gies Carol Taylor Annette Rochelle Aben John W. Howell D. Wallace Peach Sherri Matthews Rosie Amber Robbie Cheadle – Robbies Inspiration Colleen Chesebro Miriam […]

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  6. Oh. Dear. I’m a gardener through and through. That’s my strength…and my weakness. I need to turn part of myself into an architect, but darn, it’s so much more fun to plant those flowers. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Val Boyko says:

    I love this analogy Diana…. and the idea of building a wonderfully imaginative tree house 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I absolutely love how you talk about your characters – and how you often have to follow their lead in your books. I’m always so surprised when a “side” character or an “extra” winds up being a pivotal piece of the plotting puzzle. I definitely am in a phase where I’m much more of a gardener, but it causes me so much grief in the revision process. Eventually I want to get to the place where I am, like you, at least building some tree houses. Beautiful post, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those “surprises” that our characters toss at us is my favorite part of writing. And “revision grief” is the perfect way to describe the process. My characters were such pains – they’d revolt, fall in love with the wrong person, refuse to die. They all wanted to share their elaborate back stories. Such prima donas. Ha ha. Now, I give them a goal and throw obstacles at them while snickering, and it’s up to them to get to there. It’s outlining, but retaining the spontaneous and surprising parts. I think we all eventually find the balance that works for us, and hopefully keep the creative joy that makes writing so fun. Thanks so much for the comment. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Jina Bazzar says:

    i’m a housetree builder. granted, it’s a small tree and a ramshackle place, but i’m a gardner with the architet tendency.
    and i totally understand the agony of lopping off scenes on a ms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your ramshackle tree-house surrounded by garden approach to writing, Jina. Yes that agony of cutting scenes I’ve labored over is something I wish to avoid and therefore the outlines. 😀 Happy Writing, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so glad you reposted this, Diana. It was published before I found you and it speaks perfectly to where I am now in my novel. Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Teri Polen says:

    I’ve learned I have to be a little more architect also, Diana, but like you, I still give my characters some leeway. Loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s my approach too. I lay out the path that the characters have to follow and give them a goal. How they get there is up to them. 🙂 That’s the part that keeps me writing. Thanks for the visit and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Jennie says:

    Fabulous post, Diana. A good gardener, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Elisabet says:

    I guess I am a gardner, I have an idea and I let it grow until it expands snd soon it seeds are everywhere, ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Solitaire says:

    wow loved this! I still have to discover who I can be, thank you fir this awarness.💕

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Silent Hour says:

    Gardening hasn’t taken me very far. Maybe I too need some architecture for my longer pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. May your next work take off soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mick Canning says:

    Definitely a gardener.

    Like

  18. Khaya Ronkainen says:

    Oh Diana, I hear you about summer being a distraction. It’s also my most unproductive season in terms of writing. So, good luck with the unwilling muse. 🙂

    And yes, I’m certainly a gardener, who likes to build tree-houses. The architects’ approach is too manicured for me. I like to play around with dirt and see what can grow. Thanks for this lovely post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Khaya. Summer is zipping by and I don’t think the muse is going to win this little tug of war. 😀 She might have to wait until September. And I’m not surprised that you are a gardener. I think most poets would be. Happy Writing, my friend. ❤

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  19. arlene says:

    What a lovely read Diana. Gardeners and architects, what a lovely way to compare them with how one writes.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. acflory says:

    Sorry, this is kind of a p.s. but…perhaps your muse /wants/ to be distracted. Maybe said muse wants to play outside? Gardening may open too many doors, but at least they do open. -hugs-

    Liked by 1 person

  21. acflory says:

    lmao – the instant I saw that tree-house, I knew which end of the spectrum I would forever belong. 😀

    Seriously though, there is a bit in the middle where certain principles of engineering are a must – the walls have to be strong enough to hold up the roof, and there should be no holes in that roof or monsoon season will be miserable. Beyond that though, I can live with organic and trial and error. I have great writing software and that makes restructuring far less painful.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thanks for this post, Diana. Your discipline and insight make you an excellent mentor for a young person who wants to make writing a profession.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Robert. I think we have to experiment and learn what works for our imaginations, styles, and goals. I loved the willynilly running/writing all over the place, but in the long run it created a lot of extra work and took a year to fix! Outlining works for me now, but I completely encourage others to explore and discover. Have a great evening, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. cagedunn says:

    I like to start with a rough mud-map, knowing that the map won’t be the journey, and then adapting as I get to the next bend – just to peep around the corner, widen my eyes, smile, and then run into the future …
    It’s such fun and so, so, so addictive!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Well, Diana, I’m no architect for sure! And after decades of scientific endeavor I’ll not willingly plan a thing – as for spreadsheets – you must be kidding I hate the damn things! I dabble a bit at gardening, a truly hit and miss thing if truth be told, plant things in the wrong place, dig them up and move when I shouldn’t and as for watering always too much – but at last I have an eye, let things grow a while, trim a bit maybe, still can’t resist a fiddle, and as for watering down my other eye lets me know when the page begins to curl. I guess I’ve become a touch organic as I’ve mellowed a bit with age! Loved the post Diana, so much more than words. Right it’s 9 pm in my part of the UK – time for a glass of red. Cheers. Eric.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. An interesting read, enjoyable! The treehouse concept sounds great and adventurous, Diana. Happy writing and have a nice Summer too! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I love the analogy of Gardener and Architect, Diana. So far I’m writing nonfiction, personal stories, to be specific but haven’t finished any books yet. In a sense, I’m a gardener. I sew seeds and watch them grow, and do a lot of trimming. But before sewing seeds and plant any trees or flowers, I visualize what they would look like and how they compliment each other, balance of height and colors. I guess that’s the architect part of me. In writing, instead of making a spreadsheet (I’m good in the spreadsheet), again, I have a mental sketch. I make the outline by making chapter folders. Some folders are empty!! Like sewing seeds, I keep writing, when it comes to trimming, I keep the original file and do the chopping in the second file or third file.

    Thank you for sharing your post. It’s very inspirational.

    It’s been 92C to 96C consistently for two weeks. Mostly, I’m checking my files and folders.
    I’m happy for your new trilogy. Hopefully, the summer heat decides not to linger. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Sarah says:

    Since I enjoy gardening so much writing tends to be likewise although I’m aiming at constructing a tree house one day.😉 Hope inspiration for your new trilogy will soon strike until then: enjoy the summer!❤🐝

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would love to see your treehouse, Sarah. What a marvelous, magical place that would be! I don’t know if I’ll have anything done before fall, and I’ve considered just not fretting about it and diving in August without any pressure. Sounds better and better every day! Lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah says:

        I will let you know when it’s finished, Diana! 😉 Your plan not to fret sounds good to me and is exactly the same I’m doing now since we’re under a horrible heatwave at the moment that goes on and on. It’s so weird when you have to capitulate because of that though, I keep thinking of all the things I could do if it weren’t so hot! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Europe has been very hot this year! We haven’t been quite as hot here, but very dry (thus the fires). Since we can’t change the weather, we might as well relax into it and find ways to be comfortable. Fall will be here before we know it!

          Liked by 1 person

  28. This is definitely one of the best reruns I’ve read, Diana. I have a hard time outlining. Enjoy your new project…that’s always exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jill. Summers are so short here that we squeeze something into every weekend and into half of our evenings. I think I’m going to have to give myself a pass until September and not worry about it. Happy Writing to you and I hope you have a great August!

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  29. I loved this, Diana. Definitely worth a rerun. I guess I’m a gardener with rabbit fences! Outlines do feel like a straitjacket (perfect analogy), but I also have my spreadsheet — and it’s huge. Maybe it’s actually my outline… but I’m too stressed out with work to analyze that.
    Wishing you fun fulfilling writing on your new project. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I had to guess, Teagan, I’d guess straight out that you are a gardener! And it does seem to me that gardeners would have to keep notes to keep all the rabbit trails straight! No stressing out. Have a wonderful day, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I’m a gardener all the way, a few seedlings here, a flower there 🙂
    Great post, I enjoyed the analogies!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I hope that authors are okay with a little gardening! It’s definitely tough, especially after all that time and effort, to see what you think is your masterpiece get chopped to bits, but a lot of the time it just comes out a sleeker version of your masterpiece! 😁💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Nicole. I don’t like formula writing. I prefer stories and characters that feel organic. It’s all about finding the right mix, I think, and what works for our styles and personalities. Thanks for stopping by! Happy Reading. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  32. What a delightful post, Diana. I’m so glad you reblogged it. I love your analogies. I have never written a long book, but I’d say at this stage of my writing career I’m a gardener (I never thought I’d say that about myself). I suppose I do have a general idea in my head of how a story will unfold but I do enjoy the unexpected discoveries as I dig in the dirt. Summer is a wonderful distraction, but I am hoping you can still enjoy it while you outline your book.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. […] from my “comment chat” with Carrie from The Write Transition on one of my posts Gardeners and Architects. She astutely noted that one key to breaking free of formula-writing is great characters. And […]

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  34. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m a definite architect. I plan everything out. I think with thrillers it’s important to have the structure laid out ahead of time. That helps ensure escalating tension. That being said, it doesn’t mean things are set in stone. As I work through my outline in a pseudo-first draft phase, I can change things or take new directions. In fact, I often do. I find new ways to up the ante. But it’s much easier to make changes at that stage than after a thorough draft is completed. It’s more painful to have to delete sentences we’ve spent a lot of time creating than those we’ve just dabbled with in loose form. For me, anyway. I’m sure others would feel too constrained by this method.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. CC Hogan says:

    I think I try and become whatever my story demands of me. I am writing a huge fantasy saga (10+ books) and without very, very precise planning it would fall apart – not least because I need to remember a huge amount of names of people and places.

    But I also find that architectural approach limiting. As part of the same series I have written a short story. With that, apart from knowing where I wanted to end, I planned not at all and it was a joy to write. This was not even gardening, this was a child building sand castles and it was wonderful.

    So now, I try and mix the two. I carefully plan all the elements that I MUST get in there to keep the story working and making sense, and I plan things like speed of travel, weather and so on that might cause continuity problems later. Then I sit in the sand, get my spade out and within that plan, build my instinctive sand castle. I keep on track and still have childish fun!

    Here is a post I made about the fantasy planning: http://cchogan.com/planning-a-trilogy-or-saga/

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    • Thanks for the comment. A 10+ book saga is spectacular, and I can see the need to carefully plan. That creative piece is important to me as well because that’s were so much of the fun lies. Although I’ve become a committed outliner, that’s all it is – an outline. There is still lots of room for sandcastles. Good luck with your book!

      Like

  36. Bridges Stevenson says:

    This was an enlightening post. I used to frown on my own style, but it’s mine so I embrace it. I know the beginning, I know the end. I know the route to the end, my characters must figure that out. Some do, some don’t. My characters write their own stories, but I know the plans that I have for them. It’s up to the characters in my stories to go along with the plan or not. The heart is a dangerous thing. Keep writing, writers.

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    • Thanks for the comment, Bridges. If there’s anything I’ve learned about writing it’s that we each have our own creative style. As long as it’s working, don’t mess with it. I’ve made adjustments, but only because I wanted to. Like you, my characters often lead the way and I’m the one that has to adjust. Happy writing.

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  37. I wish I could say I was either… can we have a 4th category? Road-sweeper, maybe? Drunken truck driver? I’d settle for bass guitarist (with issues).

    Liked by 2 people

  38. bkraine says:

    I am trying my hand at this architect thing for my second book because my first went very similar to your experience and I just don’t want to do that much re-writing this time around. That said, of the 11,000 words of my second novel done so far, about half of them came growing up like weeds in my foundation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s just fine!!! The creative part is the most fun and it seems to come naturally to you. Just go back to your outline and tweak it so it continues to flow gracefully forward. I’m constantly going back to my blueprints to make sure they still work. For many changes I have to make adjustments going forward as well as backward. Good luck with your book.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. I loved this post and your analogy! I’m a bit like you, turns out. A hazy sketch of a layout, then let the characters take the story where they might.
    Now, if only my own writing matched your beautiful prose… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been having the same conversation on Linkedin and there are quite a few of us who give our characters considerable free rein. The more I learn about structuring a story, the more I use it – but I do love the discovery process with my characters.

      And “oh please” Nicholas. Your writing is highly engaging. Awesome worlds, characters, and action. I happen to know you have an audience out there that loves your books.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. Builder of tree houses, landscape designer… Something like that. I have never gone into writing a novel blind (pure “pantser”/random gardening), but I dislike planning every scene and making complex lists of character traits before starting to put the story on the page. (I can’t even fill out a typical character creation questionnaire for MYSELF — I honestly can’t tell you what my favorite food is, or what I’m “most likely to do at a large party” other than not be there in the first place.) I know my general idea for the plot, a bit about the setting, something about my major characters… Since I have to coordinate all of my fiction with my twin’s (we have this evil scheme to make everything we write tie together to one degree or another), I do make sure none of the important details conflict with anything else already written or even planned (to the small degree that we plan things), but it’s like that for any writer of a series, too.

    It’s a spectrum, as you said. No actual gardener plants things truly at random; there’s always some thought about what to plant, and where to plant it. (Even someone who grabbed a handful of seeds and just threw them into the air would have to choose THOSE seeds over some others, and how big a handful, and what direction to throw them in.) On the other end of the spectrum, architects plan as much as possible, but there’s always the chance of the site not being exactly as expected, which requires some adjustments to the original concept. Or the weather turns harsh during the construction process, and the choice is to wait out the delays or find some way to work around that problem, too. (A writer who plans TOO much will find that the map is trying to be the territory — the story has been planned so thoroughly that the outline practically IS the story… written before the author thought she/he was writing it.)

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    • I agree Thomas, no one can be pure gardener or architect when it comes to fiction. Funny that you can’t even make a character list for yourself! I think I plan more than you do, setting up character bios, writing mini encyclopedias while world-building, and blocking out the plot. Yet all of it is free to change. Interesting that you are confined by some details – coordination with your twin. I wonder, do you find yourself doing a lot of revisions and editing once you get to the end? That’s the biggest advantage to me in having a plan, even if it changes in the course of writing – I reduce the time I spend in later drafts.

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  41. Dawn D says:

    Well, I have no idea of how to write fiction. Right now, the only thing I seem to know how to write is more akin to journaling. Or poetry.
    One day, maybe, I’ll manage to write my story in an actual book. Or maybe not my story, but the one I am trying to tell. The story of a woman trying to figure out who she is… For now, I don’t have enough time or energy to do that.
    One day maybe. 🙂
    But I am quite sure that if I were to write a book, it couldn’t be the architect way, it would have to be more like a gardener. Though I like your tree houses 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t start writing books until I was 50! I wish I had started earlier, but it was that “time” thing getting in the way. Journaling is a great way to learn about yourself, and I’ve used it many times to dig deep. Keep writing and who know what will show up in your future – perhaps the next great masterpiece!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dawn D says:

        Well, I have a few more years then 😉
        I have no intention to stop writing right now. I need to. It’s my life saver, my breath of fresh air, allows me to sort my thoughts and decide what I want to do in life…
        And who knows, maybe a masterpiece is in my future, time will tell 🙂
        Thank you fot the support!

        Liked by 1 person

  42. I am definitively a gardener. The only thing I start with is the beginning and the end, the rest just comes. I tried to write a simple story once with the architect method, and it didn’t turn out that well. I found the constraints it put upon me too restrictive, and I ended up chucking it out and starting from scratch.
    Still, I should probably learn, since I plan on writing a weight loss book at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very cool, Riley. I suppose having the end in mind helps you stay focused and the right track. I didn’t have an ending in mind, which I’m certain contributed to the wandering. Yeah, you’ll probably need to have an outline for a non-fiction. Never to late to learn something new!

      Liked by 1 person

  43. Wonderful post about the intricacies of writing, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  44. claytonjcallahan says:

    Diana, this nails it for me. I began as an architect who didn’t know how to draw a proper blue print. We all start somewhere, but yes, I love your tree houses. Keep growing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I tend to plan a little more with each book. My writing time is used more efficiently if I’m not wandering around on tangents. That said, I don’t want to lose the freedom that comes from a willingness to explore the characters’ natural inclinations. Good luck with your blue prints!

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  45. moylomenterprises says:

    In my younger days I wrote a lot of fiction, most of which were sparked by dreams I had that I later developed into full stories using the characters I saw in my dreams. There was certainly a plot and story line then, but there room to change things around as ideas shifted in the process of transferring thoughts to paper. Definitely ‘tree house’!

    But now, as I no longer have to imagine what’ real life ‘ is, and have had quite a turbulent one, I no longer have a desire to dwell in fiction for I am neck deep in trying to make sense of what the real world has dished out! My writing now, is mostly for therapy, as I try to heal and put the shattered pieces back together. I am now a ‘gardener’, digging around in the backyard of my life trying to uproot the items of hurt and pain once buried quite hurriedly in an attempt to perform an autopsy as check for reasons why things have gone so horribly wrong.

    The good thing is, for every bit of pain or hurt I unearth, once resolution is found, it is then given a proper burial in a more appropriate place, then I plant new seeds of hope where the hurt and pain used to be. The process can be long and difficult and extremely messy but ultimately it’s all worth it for the peace of mind and clarity it brings.

    Thanks for your thought-provoking post, it was a very interesting perspective on the writing process. Nicely written.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A beautiful and thoughtful comment. Thank you so much. I used to journal quite a bit and it was almost stream-of-consciousness writing. It was exactly what you describe, rooting around in a garden of feelings, digging them up to be examined, understood, and laid to rest. Sorting the hidden gifts from the weeds. I wish you much joy in that garden when the new seeds grow and blossom.

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  46. I enjoyed this very much. It captured me! I think the reason I have not written anything longer than bite-size memoir bits (except for what was required as part of an academic program) is because I am more of a gardener. Contemplating a large, coherent writing project is too daunting. Even when I was an athlete, I would say: I am great in races up to a distance of X but even thinking about what would be necessary to attempt something longer makes my head blow up. What I am doing at this point is writing those shorter bits so that they may, in time, be bonded to other short bits to create one larger work–a memoir patchwork quilt. That works for me at this point. I can make a discipline of writing, which I enjoy, without becoming overwhelmed. The whole thing is a bit different for me though. I know how my stories end. I just need to find the right lens through which to view them. But the slicing and dicing of my word offspring also makes me wince 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like memoirs that capture interesting glimpses of a person’s experience. The patchwork quilt is a wonderful metaphor. Keep writing those pieces and you might find yourself with a book. I’m much more of an outliner now. It’s quite a bit easier to write if I know where I’m going and can break it into manageable chunks. At the same time I love the adventure that comes from the discovery side and would never want to lose that.

      Liked by 1 person

  47. In writing a memoir, I have an outline, but I know where I’m going because I’ve been there. I’m taking it from my birth through my school years from K-12. I’m just trying to add as much humor as possible. I’m also writing about all the animals in our life. They were a part of it after all, and there were quite a few. I’m fairly sure I’m going to go Indie or hire a small press. I haven’t got that far. For my flash fiction, I pants it. I sometimes do a little research. 🙂

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    • Good luck with the memoir, Suzanne. Yes, those are quite different as you already know the story intimately! To me, short stories require quite a bit of planning since there’s only so much space. I can see how flash fiction can be much more spontaneous. This writing stuff is all so interesting.

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  48. philipparees says:

    Definitely tree houses for fiction, with a tendency to pull the ladder up behind me! Non fiction has a lot of architecture until I start to write and then I tend to plant what takes my fancy and what probably has to struggle to survive in between those smooth Yorkshire slabs leading the harnessed eye to that pagoda…yes you CAN see it, behind that YEW hoo.

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    • Non-fiction is another whole construction, I agree. And I do like non-fiction with a bit of personality! The tree house metaphor works for me, because as whimsical as it appears, it requires planning and a sturdy foundation so it doesn’t shake loose and crash to the ground in pieces:)

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