Monday, April 07, 2008

Pulling weeds

I've downsized many of my gardens, filling them with perennials and things easier to maintain. Most of my annuals go into planters. A good idea when your soil is hard clay, and summers long and dry like here in Ohio. I enjoy gardening as long as I'm not a slave to it. Choosing plants and laying out gardens is part of the job I enjoy. The part I don't like is weeding.

That's what I found myself doing this morning. After three rain-free days I figured I'd better get outside and into the mud to pull up the grass that is choking out my iris beds while I had the chance. It wouldn't break my heart if I never had to pull another weed as long as I live, especially grass whose roots run deep and sturdy and are resistant to the hardest pulling. But if I want to enjoy my beautiful irises in a few weeks, this part of the job is absolutely necessary.

Bent over the flower beds with my back complaining and my fingers slipping off the grass shoots, I was reminded of all the weed pulling I do in writing. If I want to submit beautiful prose to my editor that brings joy to the reader, I first need to pull the weeds.

A weed is anything that takes away from the beauty of the written word. Most weeds are easy to spot. Like grass, they are thick and domineering and choke out the message you are trying so hard to bring out. Many of my weeds remind me of clover, a relatively easy weed to pull. My clover weeds are often just and that. It isn't until editing I even realize how many times those two words make an appearance. Ugh! They drive me crazy. They are basically harmless, but can slow down a reading and show off the writer's immaturity. Other weeds take much more sweat and hard work to eradicate, but their removal will reveal the beauty beneath the madness.

Other times you don't recognize a weed for what it is until it's grown a little, established a root system and is resistant to removal. The most frequent weeds I find in the garden of my writing are scenes I once thought necessary, but have proven counterproductive to the story.

I am currently editing Book 4 of my Jenna's Creek series. I have worked scenes over and over until they shine. Then during final editing, I find the scenes don't work at all. Pulling those weeds break my heart. Some are funny. Some are powerful. Others showcase my brilliance more than any other line in the book. They look beautiful from a distance. Only upon closer inspection do I see they are hurting the story. All that work, all that tweaking and labor was for nothing. The scene is scrapped.

It is my hope that with practice and work, I can recognize a weed for what it is before I put so much work into it. Over time I hope to become more efficient at my gardening so less work in involved to produce a masterpiece that will bring joy to all who behold it.

It the meantime, I think I'll bask in the sunshine of a job well done. These moments don't last, whether in a figurative or literal garden. Rain is in the forecast and more hard work on the horizon.

Wishing all a productive week.

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