God’s Little Miracles: A New Look at an Old Metaphor

I put our garden in last weekend.  It’s one of the rituals of spring that I love.  Actually, it starts earlier than that.  In late February or early March, I make the trek to the local plant nursery and buy seed packets.  My joke is that seeds are cheaper than baby plants, but in all honesty, I like the process of putting seeds in peat pods and watching them grow.  For example, tomato seeds are pretty small, maybe an eighth of an inch in diameter, yet they grow into a plant taller than I am with a fairly significant root structure for an annual.

Now, I could make a metaphor of life and how it relates to the way a plant grows from a seed and flourishes into a plant that bears fruit, but I think that’s probably been done enough.  Instead, I’ll take the idea for a novel and describe it.

The seed.  An idea starts off small, just like a seed.  Sometimes, it may be a character.  Or even a line of music, as what happened in one of my novels.  Some of my ideas may gain purchase and grow, but a far greater number of them never make it out of seed form.  Still, I stow them away in a safe place.  After all, you never know when something else might come along to further refine that idea.  But for the ideas that may gain traction, it’s important to nurture those.

Good soil.  To get a plant to sprout, this item is necessary to get an idea to grow from just that, an idea, into a novel.  More than that, it’s important to spend time preparing that foundation by tilling the soil.  It’s the same thing with my writing.  I do a lot of preparation work before I begin the actual process of writing.  A whole lot.  I get to know my characters.  I work on their histories, which sets up the conflict in the novel.  I do any background research necessary.  I also develop an outline for the plot.

Water, sun, and fertilizer.  Seeds need water and warmth brought by the sun to sprout.  Then, once the leaves come out, they need that sunlight as well as water to grow.  Then, occasionally, they need additional nourishment in the form of fertilizer.  Writing is like that too.  When I’m writing, I need to make the time to do so.  Depending on the time of year, I have to plan to make it work, but I try to set aside an average of an hour a day to do so.  Sometimes that may come in hourly blocks or even half-hourly blocks.  Other times, I may get the opportunity to write in three-hour chunks.  It just depends on what’s happening in my life.  In terms of nourishment, it’s also important to care for other parts of my life like having time with my husband and pups and taking care of my body by exercising.  And sometimes, it’s just nice to kick back with a book.

Bugs and bunnies.  Seedlings, as they grow from tiny plants into larger ones, face many perils.  Too little water.  Too much water.  And also bugs and bunnies.  These creatures can thwart that growth or even destroy it.  Writing a novel has many hurdles as well, anything ranging from lack of time to writer’s block to lack of discipline to buckle down and do the work.  When that happens, the only way I can move past it is just to persist and keep in mind that God has gifted me with the talent and abilities to write and that He has a purpose for my writing.

Fruit.  In growing a garden, persistence pays off when the plants bear fruit, be it tomatoes, cucumbers, or eggplants.  The same goes with writing.  No matter what the goal is–published novel, completed family history, church articles–completing the writing project is the fruit that brings us writers satisfaction.  Recently, I submitted a proposal for a novel.  When I hit the Send button, I thought about all that had gone into writing the novel (spilling the first draft in a short period of six weeks, tedious revisions, completing the proposal while fighting through a nasty case of norovirus), and I have to admit that the satisfaction I felt was tremendous.

So now I wait for the garden to grow and worry that, for once, we might be getting a bit too much rain.  Well, the seedlings seem happy, and I do think some of them have grown in the week and a half they’ve been in the ground.  As for my current project?  I stand encouraged.  All of the foundation work has begun paying off as I see the way the characters grow and change as I type.  Who knows?  Maybe this one will bear fruit as well.


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