“The garden as metaphor” Great book on creative writing!

I plant zinnias in my garden every spring, and they supply me with nonstop cut flowers until frost.

A good friend of mine–a poet–recommended this great book on creative writing to me.  I bought it a year ago and have just gotten around to reading it.  I love it, and heartily recommend it* to writers.  It’s funny and insightful and entertaining.

I was reading this chapter to the kids the other day during our Language Arts study, and the following passage about the garden really touched my heart.  The author was explaining that she wanted to make a garden an important part of a book she was writing, but that she wasn’t a gardener.  So she finally decided that she was going to have to learn as much about gardening as possible, by calling a local nursery and peppering them with questions.

This redbor kale is as pretty as it is delicious.

This passage is from Annie Lamott’s very fine book on writing, called Bird by Bird:

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This is it.  Looky:  if you click on this image, you can buy a copy for yourself!

“. . . the garden did not start as as metaphor.  It started out as paradise.  Then, as now, the garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things.  The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe.  It’s part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food.  It’s a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses; it’s about winning, about providing society with superior things, and about proving that you have taste and good values and you work hard.

And what a wonderful relief every so often to know who the enemy is–because in the garden, the enemy is everything:  the aphids, the weather, time.  And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth and growth and beauty and danger and triumph–and then everything dies anyway, right?  But you just keep doing it.  What a great metaphor!  I love this so much!”

I have a whole lot of bulb fennel that went to seed. Here’s another garden puzzle: what should I do with all this seed?

*A disclaimer:  It’s a great book on creative writing, but there’s a bit of crude language used in the book, so be forewarned, if you decide to give it a look-see.

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4 thoughts on ““The garden as metaphor” Great book on creative writing!

  1. Helen

    Ahhh…. I LOVE Bird by Bird! I read it 20 years ago when I became a part of the National Writing Project then I re-read it just a few weeks ago.
    Yes, the language… but the chapter on rough drafts was so freeing to me… to know it was ok if that first (or second or third) draft wasn’t good (yet).

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