Plant Words and Watch Them Grow
I love planting things – carefully, gently, adding plant food and water and lovely fresh soil. But then, without fail, I watch as they wither and turn grey and disintegrate.
I was heartened, therefore, to read this beautiful piece by the writer Yoojin Grace Wuertz, who acknowledges her own struggle to turn her fingers green. She gives the lovely advice that you should do what you can and then leave the rest to the flora Powers that Be: ‘I began to accept the notion that the natural world had its own rhythms and timeline that I could not change no matter how hard I pushed.’
This is where writing comes in. Like the flowers and vegetables she planted, Wuertz found that her writing needed patience, space, time and acceptance in order to grow. It could not be pushed and cajoled into life through sheer persistence.
As a writer, particularly in a world of such immediacy, it’s easy to forget that the process takes time. You can chain yourself to a desk for five hours each day and hammer out words till you hit your daily target, but ideas still need time and space in which to germinate. If you don’t balance desk time with experiencing the outside world, how else can its truths filter through into your words?
And once you’ve finished your memoir or novel or short story, of course, you need more patience. Wait as people read your work; wait for an agent or publisher to pick it up, if that is your aim; wait for your manuscript to turn into a physical book.
And then? Wait for inspiration to kick in for the next one. Because it will, like some – but not all – the seeds you plant in soil. You just need to let it.