I know, can you believe how tiny it is?
I love digging in the dirt and planting seeds. I go crazy at the nursery over the colorful pansies and begonias. And I feel great satisfaction transplanting tomatoes from the local greenhouse and seeing fresh, green shoots come up.
But we usually have a long, cool June here, and waiting for everything to grow, I grow impatient. Definite parallels exist between gardening and the writing life.
Same time I planted my garden, I polished a draft of my next book. When the pub date shifted from fall of 2013 to spring of 2014, my impatience...well, it had a growth spurt.
“I’ll probably be dead by then!” I wanted to scream at my editor.
But my tiny and fragile basil seedlings sat under a grow light next to my desk. I couldn’t raise my voice in their presence.
Gardening requires diligent work: preparing the earth, planting seeds, watering and fertilizing. But there’s a point where the gardener must let go and wait. No amount of effort will make the plants grow, bloom and produce. Same with a book. Once it’s been written and sent off to the publisher, it’s out of my hands.
In the next month I’ll go out to my garden, pull a few weeds, stake a few vines, pinch off extraneous shoots. But I recognize a lot depends on the weather, whether the bees come round and pollinate, and the pests and diseases that threaten my crops.
With a book, there’s always more a writer can do in terms of promotion, but you can’t force a publisher to publish it, and you can’t force people to buy it, anymore than a gardener can force a tomato to ripen.
This season I’m bringing my green thumb inside to my writing desk. I’m letting go of the anxiety, and the mistaken notion of control. I’m choosing to trust that my hard work and attention to the details of the craft will flower and fruit.
Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the lettuce.
What do you do to carry your excitement through while waiting...and waiting...and waiting?