It’s That Time Again!

Alyssum Among Hollyhocks and Baby’s Breath

Putting in the garden always reminds me how similar writing and gardening are.  It’s really no surprise how many writers are also gardeners.

Over the last few weeks, Jim and I have been doing a lot of gardening, none of which involved going to plant nurseries and picking up flats of plants.  Nor, until this past weekend, did we do much with the seeds we purchased earlier this year and set by.

Instead, what we’ve been doing is getting the soil ready for those plants.  This has involved trips to get horse manure, doing so early enough that it would age before we dug it in.  We’ve been emptying compost bins.  Digging compost trenches.  Emptying containers of the old potting soil and replacing with fresh.

Note: We live in a part of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where “soil” is a misnomer.  We have pretty much pure sand.  If we don’t “amend” (to use gardening  jargon), our plants don’t have a chance.  Even native plants struggle.

As of this past weekend, we’re finally putting seeds in (radish, carrot, squash).   Eventually, as nighttime temperatures warm, we’ll put in bean seeds.  And we’ll see what the plant nurseries have to offer by way of starter plants.

So, what does this have to do with writing?  Well, writers also need to prepare their “soil,” and I’m not certain that any genre is as demanding in this way as Science Fiction and Fantasy, because in order to “just make it up,” it’s necessary to know how things happen, why things happen, and a lot more.

For that, you need to do a lot of solid research.  One thing that concerns me is how many of budding writers who came to the genre through visual media (movies, television, computer games) don’t understand that these are not great sources for how the universe—or even our own single planet—works.

Spaceships do not “swoosh” when in flight through the void.  Horses cannot be left saddled, bridled, ready to go, as if they are organic cars.  And some of the armor and weapons, especially those in computer games, may look fantastic, but they wouldn’t be functional, much less practical or protective.

I spent much of the last week and a half reading and researching so that I can make a relatively small point in the manuscript I’m revising not only cool, but plausible.  As with my garden, I do my best to make sure my creative “soil” is amended, so my that story can grow stronger and flower forth.

4 Responses to “It’s That Time Again!”

  1. Louis Robinson Says:

    I could use some of that sand. Like most urban subdivisions, my yard was the clay from digging the basement, covered with just enough topsoil to let the sod take root.

    There’s been enough gardening since the place was built that several inches of sorta topsoil has accumulated in places, but planting things is still not much fun. ‘well-drained’ this stuff is not!

  2. Harried Harry Says:

    Louis, my property is a lot like Jane’s since the base is sand. We both live in a location which was once an inland sea so it’s very easy to find sea shells in the “soil”. The Rio Grande near Las Cruces is currently dry so it is all sand. At times I wish they would dredge it so some of the clay could be extracted but I don’t think it’s allowed.

    Jane, I understand why you think gardening is an appropriate metaphor for being a writer. Everything you need to do is the same for a gardener. Researching, preparing, digging, obtaining compost or fertilized soil supplements, and finally “planting”. I think you do a very good job. Keep up the good work; all your ‘native’ critters will enjoy eating the items from your garden as you enjoy writing.

    Best wishes for a wonderful week.

    BTW: I used to mix the horse manure into one of my compost bins and let it sit for a year; this allowed the manure to degrade into something which would not kill the plants. Of course, I rotated the pile about twice a months, but each of my bins was large (4x4x3 high). My neighbors have lots of horses! 😀

    • janelindskold Says:

      I’m hoping that the manure we have won’t burn the plants. We’ve usually been pretty successful. Wait and see, right? By the way, you’ll feel very smug about tomorrow’s WW!

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