Today we welcome back author Shannon Wiersbitzsky, who we previously interviewed about financial literacy as well as writing. Shannon is returning today as a guest blogger to discus writing, gardening, and how writing is like gardening! Shannon’s latest book, What Flowers Remember, launched this month. In celebration of this, there is a giveaway at the end of the post! Thank you Shannon for being our guest. Shannon’s post follows:
You know those beautiful home gardens? The ones featured on Pinterest or Facebook that are bursting with color, not a weed in sight, picture perfect wicker baskets loaded with cut flowers or fresh vegetables of the season. Yeah. That. Is. Not. My. Garden.
Despite my suburban existence, I like to think of myself as a gardener. The idea of planting seeds, nurturing them, and then reaping the harvest is immensely appealing to me. Its all the actual work that gets a bit dull. Starting out is the easy part. I’m full of ideas and inspiration. Then as the weeks and months drag on, I lose a bit of steam. Ok, I lose a lot of steam. The poor bean plants sag as they wait for me to come pick. If they could give me a holler, I ‘m sure I’d get an earful.
As writers, if we’re not careful, the same thing can happen to our manuscripts. We start out loaded for bear. Ideas to spare. Eager to outline plots and characters, and to get writing. We have energy to burn.
As the first sprigs of green come to life, in the form of pages and chapters, we pat ourselves on the back, our energy high, our spirits soaring. We’re sure this will carry on forever.
Then it rains. We struggle with the next plot twist. A heat wave makes being outside unbearable. We begin to dislike our own character and doubt this story idea had any merit in the first place. Then when we finally get to the garden, we find its almost taken over by weeds. We scrap a thousand words in an effort to find the good stuff.
And of course we must battle the temptation of the next energizing idea. When one story is a struggle, it is so easy to get wooed by one of the many thoughts that constantly whiz back and forth in our minds. Those ideas can be so shiny! They look terrific. They feel new and glossy and full of promise. And of course we are completely capable of convincing ourselves that if only we set aside our current work and switched gears, then oh the words would flow!
Of course weeds will grow in any garden. Rain will fall. Heat waves will sap our energy. And we’ll be tempted to throw in the towel. Don’t give in!
Writing takes extreme patience. It takes the diligence to write day after day, week after week, whether that writing yields a single paragraph or several chapters, we must keep going. Every word is progress. I have a mantra I like to tell myself when writing doesn’t flow. It’s this. Word by word, page by page, a story grows. Jot that on a sticky note and put it where you write.
Like my garden, a work in progress doesn’t always look picture perfect. Know that you will get muddy. There will be annoying bugs. And know that this is perfectly normal!
Writing involves tremendous work. Sometimes it means sacrificing bits we adore so that the rest can grow. But it will grow. Maybe not as fast as we’d like. But the shoots will rise. The leaves will unfold. And before you know it, you’ll be reaping the rewards.
Thank you Shannon for that great analogy. I agree 100 percent. Writing is work…. but the rewards are beautiful! Readers, take a moment to find out about What Flowers Remember, then enter the super-easy to enter giveaway!
Most folks probably think gardens only get tended when they’re blooming. But most folks would be wrong. According to the almanac, a proper gardener does something every single month. Old Red Clancy was definitely a proper gardener. That’s why I enrolled myself in the Clancy School of Gardening. If I was going to learn about flowers, I wanted to learn from the best.
Delia and Old Red Clancy make quite a pair. He has the know-how and she has the get-up-and-go. When they dream up a seed- and flower-selling business, well, look out, Tucker’s Ferry, because here they come. But something is happening to Old Red. And the doctors say he can’t be cured. He’s forgetting places and names and getting cranky for no reason. As his condition worsens, Delia takes it upon herself to save as many memories as she can. Her mission is to gather Old Red’s stories so that no one will forget, and she corrals everybody in town to help her. What Flowers Remember is a story of love and loss, of a young girl coming to understand that even when people die, they live on in our minds, our hearts, and our stories.
“[Delia’s] frustration, fear and sense of loss will be readily recognizable to others who have experienced dementia in a loved one, and her story may provide some guidance on how to move down that rocky path toward acceptance and letting go. …What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel compassionately conveys.” — Kirkus Reviews
*Note: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Shannon Wiersbitzky is a middle-grade author, a hopeless optimist, and a lover of nature. Her first novel, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, was nominated for the William Allen White award. Born in North Dakota, Shannon has called West Virginia, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Michigan “home” at some point in her life. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, one rather dull fish and her never dull mutt Benson.
Find out more about her here:
Super-Easy to enter Giveaway:
Enter to win a copy of What Flowers Remember. All we need is your name and an email address, so we can notify the winner. The contest runs until Midnight May 20, 2014. For Double Entries, leave a comment about writing, gardening, or this post!