Every year at this time, I turn my attention to my garden, which I love. It’s rather a wild place, with a woody bit full of silver birch trees, a rough looking pond,with those tall yellow irises growing around it, that one of the French kings, Louis XI, I think, so admired that he used it, the fleur-de-lys, as the national symbol of France. That’s where the newts live too, alongside the frogs and dragonflies. Then there’s a large stretch of mossy lawn, then there’s my greenhouse. Over winter, it gets very neglected. I’m not an outdoorsy person and tend to hibernate if there’s an ‘r’ in the month, so the greenhouse gradually fills up with stuff from the house which we need to put in a pending pile, pending a decision to save or throw out. There’s broken furniture, old tools, useful boxes, you know the sort of thing.
But, at this time of year a day comes when I have to go and sort it all out, ready for ‘planting up my baskets’. We usually have three large hanging baskets near the front door, which have provided a pleasant backdrop for tourists’ photographs over the years, as our house shares an access road with a major tourist attraction. This year I shall plant six baskets, with three extras for the back of the house, because we have visitors in the summer and I want the house to look as beautiful as possible. At least that’s the plan.
Today I cleaned out the greenhouse. Ready. I set out six hanging baskets on tubs,in a sort of nursery row, where they will stand, after I’ve planted them, for up to a month, until the plants are established and I think I can safely put them outside to face the weather. After that I had lunch, smug with the thought that I’d made a start. Now, I just have to do the job. I
For me, writing follows the same process. I have an idea, I do the research, I start a new notebook with a working title at the top of the first page. I may even write the first page or 1000 words, if I’m really on song. Then I stop for a while, smug with the thought that I’ve made a start. I might get to chapter 10 in this way, bit by bit, stop and start. Then there’s this cold spell – Is it working? Is it a page turner? Will anyone want to read it? Will anyone want to publish it? – and this can go on for quite a while, until the day comes when I can’t stand the messy tangle of my thoughts any longer and I have to do something about it. I used to wish I didn’t have the cold spell. Now, I’ve learned to love it, as a necessary part of the work, forcing the story back in on itself, deep inside my head, to grow, like the roots of the plants, to get stronger, to settle and let the right words push to the surface, and show their green shoots. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy writing, Pauline x