Thursday, April 27, 2006

Planting Roots

By Nichole Giles

The other day the sun came out, the temperature jumped, and I decided it would be a great day to play in the dirt. Sunny days are perfect for planting, and I had some plants to replace. Having been in our home for two years this month, I had hoped to be finished planting shrubs and vines so that I could move on to planting more colorful things. And last summer, I was. For a day or two.

Last spring we got a dog, a female Golden Retriever. As dogs go, she is the calmest, most easygoing dog I have ever met. She never barks, she never jumps on people, and she always minds the commands we give her. However, she does have one major flaw. Our dog likes to dig up plants. She didn’t just dig them up. Once she got hold of a new plant and pulled it from the ground, she then proceeded to rip it to shreds and drag its remains around the back yard.

Now I suppose you are wondering, what does this have to do with writing? When a writer puts words to a page (or screen), he or she is planting a root. With sunshine and nourishment and time (not to mention lots and lots of rewrites), that root will grow into something beautiful, something precious, something truly amazing.

And then someone, usually an editor, will rip it up, stomp on it, and drag it along the ground, making sure to leave tire marks where they drove over it.

When I found the remains of my once beautiful plants, I screamed at the dog, and banished her to her kennel, where she remained for several days. I only let her out when I could be out with her, guarding my newly planted roots. I replanted them, you see. The other day when I went outside, I could see tiny shoots peeking their little heads out of the soil screaming, “I’m alive! You didn’t think I’d live, but I did.”

And so will our work. We will take the shreds of what we once considered a perfectly beautiful story, and replant it. We’ll fix it, and nurse it, and give it time and faith. With those things it will grow into something publishable. Something that will make us proud.

This is the reason I went outside last weekend. I saw the old plants coming up, and it inspired me to plant some new ones. So I did.

P.S. In case you were considering it, I wouldn't suggest comparing your editor to a dog. Nor would it be a good idea to scream at them and whack their noses with your red-inked manuscript. For some reason, editors don't react well to those situations, and you may find yourself without one.


Darvell Hunt said...

Ah hah! We finally found out who the dog is!

It's the editor!

Oh wait. I'm the blog editor. Hey!


Triple Nickel said...

This helped me feel better as today I bought tomato plants and had them sitting under the tree to harden off when the dog decided they would look better strewn all over the back yard!
I think writing is the same. Oh, and I think editors are the dog!