By J. S. Watts.
I have spent much of this summer writing my new novel (the first draft is now well over three quarters of the way through, thank you for asking) and trying to reclaim my garden from the wilderness it was becoming. I therefore thought I’d write a post about the benefits of gardening. Well Mark has repeatedly said I can write about anything. Let me be upfront, I enjoy gardening, but I’m not a real gardener. My mother is one of those. She knows the plants by their Latin names (I barely know their common ones) and regularly digs over the soil as you are supposed to do. I just dig holes to put things in. Nevertheless, I enjoy my garden and recognise its value as a writing tool. What? You didn’t think this post was going to be about writing? Writing is an extremely sedentary activity: hours sat in front of a computer screen or with a notebook on your lap. To stay healthy, writers need to exercise. Gardening is a wholesome, outdoors activity. Indeed, based on personal experience, I am convinced you can pull as many muscles in the garden as you can in the gym. It’s good and necessary physical exercise and can be done in either short or long bursts, as your writing flow dictates. Gardening is also excellent for working your way through plot difficulties or those tricky poetic line breaks. Clear your mind, deadhead a few dozen roses and you’ll find your sub-conscious has resolved your plot bottleneck and composed a whole new stanza for you. There’s nothing like the combination of manual work and mental distraction for sorting out writing glitches in your head. The garden can be a fertile muse, if you let it: life and death, re-growth, beauty and raw nature “red in tooth and claw” – it’s all here. I’ve managed to reference gardens in at least two of my novels (Witchlight and the forthcoming Old Light, should you be interested) and I have multiple poems that contain garden imagery or are somehow focused around the idea of a garden, (more than I realised, in fact, having checked back through my poems for the purposes of this post). In addition to all of the above, a garden can just be a tranquil and therapeutic place to chill, when you’re not fighting off the wilderness that is about to engulf both it and you, that is. Which reminds me, I have some more gardening I need to do and the rest of a novel to write. I may be sometime. J.S.Watts