The Garden as Character


In just a few days National Novel Writing Month will begin. My effort last year never bore any fruit, so I am trying again. As someone who is 36 and is facing some serious chronic illness issues, this is something I would like to get out of my system after all of these years. Realizing that the static of rare disease is what came between myself and this dream was the first hurdle. Completing it on time will be the next. 50,000 words in a month is a lot of writing! I only ever wanted to be a writer, ever since the beginning of my being, and I want my nieces to know that even though it has been many years, I am not going to be a woman who gives up. What bothers me is that it is always such an emotional experience, one that draws a lot of energy out of me. I don’t know why that is, but I think for many writers the act is similar to that of exercising a demon.

This is a topic here on my blog because I want to use a garden as a character of sorts. I would like to know your thoughts about garden literature in general too in order to help my thought process a bit. Typically I like to write fictional memoirs, but I think that it is safe to say that I enjoy literary fiction and that’s the genre I will be in for the month of November.
My favorite novel involving a garden was called A Man of Character by the Italian auther Paola Capriolo. If you have not read it, you should pick a copy of it up.
I am late for brunch with my cousin, and I will return to this post tonight after work. So in the meantime, what do you think of garden literature? What do you like?
PS: For those who read garden books regularly, my birthday just happens to be the same as Beverley Nichols. That gives me some comfort for some unknown reason.
If you would like to participate in this absolutely crazy activity, here is a link to the Web site. You don’t have to be in the US at all to participate. If you sign up, let me know. We can share stuff in a group.

14 thoughts on “The Garden as Character

  1. Writing is truly a gift to be shared.I am glad you are embarking on this path because what I have seen in your blog, you are quite good with a lot to say. You will have readers following what ever path you choose to express.

    I enjoy when a writer makes the story personal. The emotion is so easy to feel in the story.

    I know what you mean about writing drawing a lot of energy. When I paint, it is the same way. Nothing else around me matters. I am in another world. People relate art to a religious experience and I find this to be true. It is one reason I do not paint very often, sometimes for years, it is hard to disassociate yourself from everyday life, but it just kinda happens. I imagine writing is similar.

    Sorry about your illness, I did not know, but I am sure the emotions will come through in your writings. A best seller is in your future.


  2. Good luck with your novel! Writing really is an expression of your soul. Gardening is like that too. I don't know how many novels feature gardens. My favorite, of course, is The Secret Garden.


  3. We can't think of novels where the garden plays a major role, but, when you have written it, we are all lining up to read it. You would have material which you could fictionalise about your foster children interacting with plants and gardens.


  4. I don't know any novels featuring gardens other than The Secret Garden. All of my gardening books are quite technical. Good luck with your novel, though. I am looking forward to the end of the month when you can share more about it.


  5. I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago (though I'm not a US national), and I used it to work through some emotional baggage. It did me a world of good, though it took quite a lot of effort to make 50,000 words in 30 days. My best recommendation is to set yourself a goal of 2,000 words per day and stick to it. (My goal was 2,500 and I didn't make it any of the days, so I guess a smaller goal is more likely to give you a sense of accomplishment and spur you on to success!)

    Anyway, remember to enjoy. Words are beautiful, and 50,000 words are even more beautiful!


  6. Hi Søren,
    Thanks for great advice. Out of the gate, I easily wrote 2,400 words today but I know that will become more difficult as the month goes on. I am thinking of this much more as an automatic writing exercise that I will edit later and it has really freed up my creativity. The thought of turning off the editor really helps me too and I had fun this morning. There is no map yet, but I intend to make an outline after I am done writing. It feels good to do it this way. Funny that I garden like this too now, but I think that the patience I've acquired with my plants will really help me this month.


  7. Elephant's Eye,
    I will be doing a kind of automatic writing all month. I am going to call it automatic writing with purpose. It is funny to talk about that though since my academic specialty was French & Spanish surrealist writing before I became too ill to begin the doctoral program I'd wanted to enter. As an undergrad, I even instructed several courses concerning surrealist literature.

    Lucky for anyone who may eventually read this though, it is not going to be a surrealist novel. They hated novels and wrote novellas and I thank them for that.


  8. PS I been in several writing groups where we simply put pen to paper and do not stop writing until one half hour is up or one hour. Turning the editor off is a good way to see what might flow out. It is amazing what does come out sometimes. ;>)


  9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett comes to mind as a novel – though a children's or young adult's novel – with the garden as a central character. I love that book. Gardens (and houses, too, I think)have personalities. I was thinking the other day about how gardens reflect the personalities of the gardeners who create and nurture them.


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