I have two great passions in life. All right there’s a lot more than two, but I’ll just talk about the two that have been dominating my life for many years.
Writing and Gardening.
Both of these are all-consuming. There is never any real end to either of them. A story will end. A season will end. However the larger picture goes on and on.
The ways in which various stories may or may not be connected. Ideas and worlds that intertwine or reflect off those of other pieces. Themes that continue from one to the next. Even a progression of growth with some skill I’m working on. The body of work which I’m creating, story by story, novel by novel.
The same with the garden. Each season leads into the next. If a plant didn’t get enough sun one year, it might not bloom the next. If there was a water issue in the summer, the fall and spring might bring fungus diseases if there was too much, or stunted growth if there wasn’t enough moisture. The rapid growth of one plant might crowd out others. As the trees grow and shade increases, sun-loving plants will grow straggly and unhappy.
Both of these passions are enough to consume a life.
One can write an entire lifetime and still have things to learn. Writing is not something that anyone ever masters. That’s why it’s so fascinating. Each novel, each story, is different. They call for different tools from a writer’s toolbox. A good writer never stops learning. Never stops reading. Never stops experimenting.
The same is true with gardening. There is never a perfect year where each plant grows into the perfect shape for where it’s placed. Where there’s no slug damage to Hostas, no blackspot on roses and all plants remain perfectly standing up through the deluge that happens in July. There’s always the freeze that wipes out at least one Hydrangea, so it won’t bloom for a year. Or the huge chunk of the neighbor’s tree that decapitates one of yours in an unattractive manner. Or spring is early and some plants leap right into it, while others lag behind and that perfect blooming combination you imagined doesn’t happen. And, you never stop learning.
I find it amusing that I’ve chosen to balance two very complex things in my life. I really am a glutton for punishment. I can never master either of these things. They’re both challenging me to the point where sometimes I feel like I’m not making progress in either.
Then I sit back in my chair and look at the beauty surrounding me in the garden, smell the sweet roses, listen to the sound of music from the waterfall or the whirring of hummingbirds and think, I did all right this year.
I look at a finished novel, or story and realize that I’ve created a world, with living people, plants and animals, which didn’t exist before I wrote it. Sometimes people even read it and tell me they like it. And I think, okay, this was worth the time and effort I put into it.
When things turn out well, in either the garden or writing, it fills me with the desire to keep going.
When they turn out badly, I realize that if only I moved that plant, or got out of my own way with the writing, it would be better. So, off I go to the next story or the next piece of the garden puzzle.
The whole thing is a mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration. Sort of like life.