….and Meanwhile in the Writing….

Beautiful, anomalous purple pea flowers

This year, in the garden, we were the most organized we’ve been in years. We cleared the debris left from last year’s garden, we tilled the soil, we added compost. We planted seeds, soon after the last frost, as advised on the packet. And then we waited.

Powdery mildew on the squash plant
The seeds came up, but they were less than enthusiastic. It was a cold spring, so we never got the arugula we’d been waiting and hoping for. It bolted too early. Same with the bok choy. Then too much rain. And so some seeds were washed away. Other places, mushrooms and mildew grew where they shouldn’t have.

Then there were the flat-out anomalies: purple and pink pea flowers where there should only be white, a viola flower among the carrots, “volunteer” cilantro and morning glories everywhere.

Viola among the carrots
And meanwhile in the writing…as with the garden, it hasn’t gone as planned. (Although I’m very organized, with lots of plans and ideas.) Distracted and distractible. Dribs and drabs. At times untouched. At times missed. Sometimes loathed and resented. It sits on my desk, in the computer, mildewing and growing mushrooms.

Mushrooms in the potted peppers
How does your writing grow? Are you, like me, distracted and distractible, by life’s ups and downs? Or are you on course: steady and dependable, no matter what?



  1. jfb57 says:

    Lovely photos of a super place. I’m like you with the writing (well it’s blogging in my case). Got lots of ideas, even have them in a list but….!

  2. Country Wife says:

    Aren’t photos such an inspiration for writing? If I didn’t take photographs, I would blog half as much. Great pics and post!

  3. Totsymae says:

    Oh, it’s bad at times. I’m considering get meds to keep me focused 🙂 Seriously though, I think about writing more often than I actually write. I saw someone taking the ROW80 challenge, so I decided to join in the fun. I also decided to revamp some novels that weren’t completed into short stories. I just need to finish a book, whether it’s a novel, book of poems or graphic novel, as all are areas I want to publish in.

    After reading Angela Tung’s memoir, I was quite encouraged.

  4. My WIP is growing weeds. I just hope they are the pretty kinds of weeds like dandelions. =) Good luck with your gardening. The good news is that unlike real plants, we can still salvage our writing and bring it back to life. Or maybe I’m just an optimist.

    -Miss GOP

  5. Way to go on your garden, Julia! Hubby and I are going to wait until next year to begin our garden again, since we’ll be moved into our new house and it’ll be easier to maintain. Just like that garden, the weather of life doesn’t always allow for productivity. I think the key is to just give your writing everything you’ve got while the sun is shining! Hope this week is full of sun beams! 🙂

  6. jfb57, Thanks for your visit to my blog and for your comment about the photos. Glad you understand and I’m not the only one!

    Country Wife, Thanks for your comment about the photos — I do feel inspired by the photos, and my writing inspires my photography, too…. Thanks for the visit to my blog!

    Totsymae, Thanks for visiting my blog! That’s pretty funny about the meds to stay focused….one of the reasons I drink sooooo much coffee 🙂 It doesnt’ help! This is the first I’ve heard of ROW80; so thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out! Also, I’ll check out Angela Tung! Thanks again for dropping by!

    Miss GOP, DARN IT!!!! I wish I’D thought of that weed metaphor. Good one!! And I think you are so write about revising the writing, unlike the garden. If the plant dies, that’s curtains, but if the writing dies down for a bit, there’s always hope tomorrow! Great comment! 🙂

  7. Jolina, How exciting to be moving to your new house! Being near the garden definitely makes it easier to maintain — we’ve had plots in a nearby community garden and out of sight, out of mind. I know what you mean, too, about the weather of life — there are definitely tranquil sunny times of easy writing interlaced with the tornadic activity (as in your last blog 🙂 of not so easy times to write!

  8. Ann says:

    I have to start with this…even tho you’re frustrated with your blogging/writing right now, you managed to post about it beautifully! THAT, my friend, is talent!

    I tend to be disciplined (maybe over disciplined) and if I’m enjoying something (like cooking and blogging), it’s what I do 95% of my time. Hubby is pleased with the food, but he’s cleaning the bathrooms…

    I’ve not had problems with blogging and I want to cook, cook, cook! I’m sure it will happen in it’s own time, tho – so I’m not gonna rush it!

  9. I like how you correlate gardening to writing. I grew up hearing that if you work hard you will eventually accomplish what you desire. Well, I suppose that is true to a point, but a lot of times it may not arrive dressed in that wonderful decorated package, and the hard work was just that…hard work. I started out writing a book…and have somehow found my way into blogging. Who knows where it all leads, but I’m enjoying it all. Hope you are too!

  10. Ann, You are always always a wonderful support system — thank you for that! So it doesn’t surprise me that you and your husband are a team (like we are), and you’re doing a great job of keeping things rolling! 🙂

    Annie, Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comment! I am definitely enjoying the blogging, as you are… it’s sometimes frustrating that I can’t make the package look like I want it to, but I agree: what we want and how it really ends up being may not always match up, and that’s ok! Thanks again for your visit to my blog.

  11. Leah says:

    Those photos are so beautiful! I wish my garden was as nice as that. I don’t know if I’d say I’m predictable and consistent. I get ideas in my head with respect to writing and then just write. But if I haven’t fully flushed out the idea, I’ll jot it down and come back when I have more thought to put into it.

  12. Leah, Thank you so much for the compliment on the garden photos…. I hope you realize that I am *quite* selective in the photos. I am not sure I’d invite you in person, to be welcomed by countless weeds and wild areas! Jotting down an idea is a great start to a consistent habit — I haven’t even done that much lately — YIKES!

  13. How wonderful to know you are a fellow gardener. Writing is my garden and editing are my weeds. Now can you help me with the bugs attacking my squash? They go after nothing else. Maybe the bugs represent an agent due to frustrating me beyond measure.

  14. I am very distracted right now … trying to figure out how to juggle big freelance projects WHILE continuing to write my WIP. I’ve had those periods of mildew, myself. But look on the bright side: these unexpected plants popping up and in different colors could be see as “new ideas” or “gifts” – or “inspiration.” (The early bolting, mildew … eh … not so much).

  15. Love the photos! Can’t wait to move and actually be able to garden again– here the deer eat anything you plant within hours!

    As far as writing, I feel like I’ve always been steady…until the past few weeks. Moving has really thrown a wrench in my routine. I’m trying to hold onto it b/c it grounds me! Can’t wait to get settled into the new place and get back to normal.

  16. I’m embarrassingly distract-able. I often ask myself–do I really want this or not? Because if I do, I’d best GET TO IT!

  17. Hi Julie. Love the photos! I do get distracted with life’s ups and down. Music helps me to gain focus so I can continue my writing

  18. badluckdetective, I love that: “writing is my garden and editing are my weeds.” very cool! The bugs attacking only squash? do they cause the leaves to wilt? if so, then squash borers… that’s what we have had… Thanks for the comment and the visit to my blog.

    Melissa, That’s a great way of looking at it! Periods of mildew but punctuated with the unexpected bright colored plants as new ideas — NICE!! I’ll try focusing on the gift plant/ideas from now on!

    Stephanie, We’re so lucky we don’t have deer — not sure why since they are in our neighborhood. That’s wonderful that writing has been steady for you! Moving is always difficult for writing…hope things return to normal soon! (and maybe you can even have a small garden this year!?)

  19. Nina, Such a frustrating feeling — so I know exactly what you mean…. look at the bright side, at least you don’t have MILDEW like I do 🙂

    Anthony, Thanks so much for your comment and your visit to my blog! You’re lucky that music helps you focus; unfortunately it creates another distraction for me! Thank you so much for the compliment on the photos and the visit to my blog!

  20. Julia, I’m like you, easily distracted (but less stressed) when deadlines are far away, but much more focused (and more stressed) when deadlines loom.

    This reminds of Ann Patchett’s book Truth or Beauty. Have you read it? Patchett and her best friend are both writers. One is the dependable, a few pages a day writer, the other is much more distracted. That’s not the point of the book – the story is about their deep friendship – but this difference between the two friends stuck with me.

  21. Jen, I think the old journalism training kicks in with deadlines — like you, I’m also more focused when I have them! Who can crack the deadline whip for my WIP??? I haven’t read the Ann Patchett book, but I’ll check it out; sounds great! (And I guess it’s not hard to see how a writer got that great idea!)

  22. I love the visuals in this post and the way you’ve likened your writing to what’s happening in your garden. I also relished the honesty of it. I’d rather commiserate with a bud who has the challenges of a real life than feel like a failure watching the glossy images of success we’re supposed to live up to.

    Naw, there’s nothing “steady and dependable, no matter what” about my progress with writing/career/creative expression.

    I saw this quote on Twitter today:

    We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. – E. M. Forster

  23. Milli, You can count on me to tell it like it is — nope, no glossy images of success here 🙂 I love that E.M. Forster quote — reminds me of the (supposed John Lennon) quote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Off to the garden for inspiration…

  24. Brenda says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post and how you tied in writing and gardening and the frustration. Of course, the photos are always inspiring. Did you ever read Elizabeth’s German Garden? It’s an old book, and if you like English classics you might enjoy. I thought of it while reading.. (I don’t like gardening AT ALL. I run to Michael’s for silk flowers.)

  25. Brenda, Glad you enjoyed the post and find the photos inspring! I’ve never read that book; I’ve read a lot of English classics and generally enjoy them, so I’ll have to check it out. These days I can well understand how someone would not like gardening….it’s been a pretty frustrating gardening year and some days I feel like I don’t like it either! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  26. BIKE LADY says:

    My boyfriend and I were just talking about this the other day, gardening…how neither of us have time for this, yet, we wish we did. When we get our cottage in Maine, that’s exactly what we’ll do. It’s why I keep coming back to your blog. It reminds me of my dream. Thank you for that. When I get there, I’ll tell you how my garden grows. 😉

  27. Bike Lady, I’m so glad my blog can remind you of your dream! When you get here, I will be very happy to hear about how your garden grows! 🙂

  28. I am also very easily distracted, which is why I have to write first thing in the morning if I intend to write at all (by “write” I mean work on my WIP. The rest of the day gets dedicated to freelance writing, which is still writing–it’s just easier to stay motivated when there are paychecks and actual clients involved 😉

  29. Natalia, I am exactly the same way about early morning writing — my favorite time to write by far. I am freshest but also I love the quiet and solitude! Another similarity 🙂