Rose Gardens & Book Shelves

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Tony’s Roses

My husband is from England.  He’s always loved roses; his grandfather had a beautiful garden. This year, Tony’s 20th in the US, he decided it was the right time to plant his own roses. Some years back we’d removed a crumbling front porch (more a stoop) made of bricks and replaced it with a small wooden porch. We added a picket fence stained the same color as the porch, spanning the small stretch of sidewalk front the front of the house to the driveway. By the way, when I say “we” there, I mean a contractor we hired. While Tony has since done a variety of house related projects and I dabble in some crafty sort of endeavors, neither of us are what you’d call do-it-yourselfers.

We have a sweet little Cape Code style house, and this year the roses climbing the fence were so picturesque. To that point, if you check my social media postings you’ll find dozens of shots of roses as I can’t seem to help myself from sharing the beauty. I think no one was more surprised than Tony at how the roses he planted bloomed abundantly and continuously for months. If you ask him, he points back to Christ in him doing all the work. Before he planted his roses, Christ in Tony form read articles online, asked questions of gardening friends on social media, etc. But apart from this, Tony didn’t study rose gardening.

Did he get everything right? Of course not. He had to experiment with watering plans (he installed his own underground watering system!) In the past few weeks we started to see “rusty leaves”, as I’ve since learned gardeners call it when a certain plant disease hits roses (and maybe other plants – I really don’t know – did I mention it wasn’t me that’s a gardener?) But as I sat looking at a jar of  pink and red beauties I brought in for the kitchen table this morning, some of what I expect will be the last we’ll see this year, I thought about how his approach to growing roses is not unlike my approach to writing has been.

I love to read. I love stories. I love connecting what I read with something I know so that I see something just a bit differently after reading. A few years ago I decided it was time to take the plunge and try some creative writing. And much like Tony did online searches and reached out to social media friends, so I did with writing. I learned about this thing called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where you attempt to write at least 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. And I did it! I wrote exactly 50,100 words during the month of November, 2014. I continued working on the novel I’d started, and last year some kind friends read it and gave initial feedback. This year my daughter offered to take a look, and thanks to her mercilessly critical eye, I’ve got a lot more work ahead of me! I’ve also written short stories and shared them online through a blog or via email with a few trusted friends and family.

As I looked at those roses on the table today, I thought, there’s no right or wrong, good or bad when it comes to having a go at something you’re passionate about. Sometimes just the act of trying your hand at it can bring you and maybe others joy. I hope Tony will carry on each year planting and tending roses, other flowers, and a vegetable garden too. He did have a very preliminary go at that this year resulting in three somewhat pale looking carrots – but he tried! And I could carry on dabbling in creative writing, sharing a story here or there. Or, I could take it to the next step.

I’m thinking about what that is. Should I take a writing class? Find a writing group?  Watch YouTube videos on “how to be a published author?” I’m honestly asking. Do you have a suggestion? Once I make further edits to the novel I started three years ago, what do I do next?

While I await your answers, I’ll do research of my own of course. And I’ll carry on working on the novel and writing short stories. But I’m setting myself a goal. If you write a goal out you’ve got a much higher likelihood of achieving it. If you share it with others, you up the odds even further, so I’m sharing it with you. Come spring, when I look out the kitchen window and see the first pink and red buds forming and blooming on Tony’s rose bushes, I will have taken that next formal step. I can’t say at this time if it’ll be that I’m in a writing group or taking a course or what. That will have to come after the research. But whatever it is, I’ll be doing it. And should I hit a roadblock (as life experience tells me I will), I’ll remind myself of the immortal words from that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang song*…“From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!

Don’t forget to pass along your suggestions in the comments! Thank you.

 

*Footnote: I just learned the writers of “Grow the Roses” (and all the songs from the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) were two brothers, Robert and Richard, collectively known as the Sherman brothers. They are sons of Jewish immigrants, just like me! Okay, I’m the granddaughter of a Jewish immigrant. And here’s a fun fact, “While at Disney, the Sherman Brothers wrote more motion-picture musical scores than any other songwriters in the history of film.” (Thanks Wikipedia!)

 

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Monday, October 12th, 2015 8:34 PM

writing again 101215Um, I uh, just finished another short story. Shh, don’t tell too many people; it’s unedited (a sin for which my highly educated and exceptionally gifted writer of a daughter may never forgive me). But I decided, why not? This blog is really a sandbox for me. And of course, some of you pick up your shovels and toy cars and join me in the sandbox from time to time; giving me ideas, encouragement, or even a simple Facebook “like”. So even though the story is unedited (apart from my own eyes), I’m sharing it with you.  Continue reading

Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 7:16 PM

steenman Garvera
Cairn (a mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark, typically on a hilltop or skyline)

Is it really only Tuesday? I’ve reached one of those times at work with far more to do than hours in the day to do it. That can be a scary place to be, but I’m finding it exhilarating (ask me again in a few days and we’ll see if I still feel that way). After a quick lunch at my desk today, I decided I could afford a brisk 15 minute walk. Not only are there the obvious health benefits, but stepping away like that gives me a clearer head for the afternoon. Anyway. While meandering through stairwells and hallways (I walk inside an office building) I thought about the rest of my day. And I thought about how I’d planned to spend some of the evening writing. One small part of me rebelled. No way! You’ve been writing, designing training, communicating, etc. all day. You need a break! But very quickly, that part of me was drowned out by a much louder voice shouting, Yes!! I can’t wait! I truly was excited to get back to the keyboard. Continue reading

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 7:48 PM

16For those keeping score, I’ve just completed revision one out of six revisions I’m planning of the novel I started during NaNoWriMo this past November. That may not sound like a very high score; one out of six. That’s 16%. Or more realistically, it’s probably something like 8%, since I need to go back and do it all again to make sure I got the story right (the way I want it). But…I completed that first revision in about three weeks, working about an hour a night, five nights (or weekend days) a week. So at that rate, I’ll be finished with all six revisions by…oh heck, you do the math; I’m focusing on the writing.  Continue reading

Sunday, January 18th, 4:08PM

grammar devotionalI’m not naïve. I’m optimistic with a dose of the realistic. I knew that after cranking out 50,100 words of a novel in 30 days I’d need to spend significantly more time revising it.  And so it was from that perspective that I attended a seminar last Monday evening at the local library taught by Dr. Juliet Kincaid on revising your novel. The target audience was people who completed NaNoWriMo this year. And fun fact: I learned the creator of this international month-long writing contest, Chris Baty is not only from my own Overland Park, Kansas, but he graduated from the same high school as my daughter. Hearing something like that, yet another thread that connects me to a larger whole is motivating.

Continue reading

Sunday, January 4, 2015 4:19 PM

I love writing. I really, really do. And yet, I don’t make time for it in a significant way. Why is that? Do you have things you really enjoy doing that you don’t make time for? Maybe you have an overly taxing job or family life. Maybe you have an illness that deprives you of the energy you’d need to accomplish your aspirations. I don’t have any of those excuses. Well, my job is demanding but in a positive, challenging way; I enjoy it. More so over the past year than I have for some time. And my family life is no more taxing than the average person’s. I don’t have little children at home, though I do have a daughter who just graduated college (go Natalie!) And I have parents who have health issues and occasionally require a helping hand (like today, when their care giver didn’t show up). But truly, none of that prevents me from writing.  Continue reading