Book worm, Bollywood gardener and now Book writer.
“I would like to write a book over this summer. An e-book.”
That was the message that I had sent my sister at the beginning of the summer. Just whim, and a case of ‘why not, lots of people write.’ How hard could it possibly be?
I knew where I wanted to start. With the horticultural Obbit blog, and the guest blogs that I had already written for world radio gardening. Plus, the winner of The BBC’s The Big Allotment Challenge had also self-published. I had a good foundation, so why not take the leap myself?
I had also seen a quote, in an obituary, of all places. The advice of the deceased to budding writers, that they should write about what they love; by way of motivation to commit their ideas to paper. I took this as further encouragement. I like my allotment, it gives me a great deal of joy and I see it as being a purposeful use of my time, energy and inclination towards life. At first, it was a case of where do I start?
My experiences of ‘Grow Your Own’ are varied, but there are season allotmenteers out there who have been growing for longer than I have been alive. The best thing to do, and the traditional repose to the original question, was to start at the beginning. To think back to four years ago, when I first gained the allotment plot and take it from there.
Then came the list making. What did I want to write about? The blog itself is varied; no one single post is the same. Even the blog posts for WRG were just a sample of the vast plethora of allotment issues, activities and results. I had to make a list of what it was that I wanted to share. If someone picked up a book, that was all about the allotment; what would be the key things that I would want to share as being useful. There would have to be the observations and learning experiences that I encountered. In half an hour of reflection, I had a list of ten things that I really wanted to share. These then became my chapter headings, and would be the key areas that I wanted to focus on.
Now, there is no lack of gardeners who write. There are many, and some of them are the powers that be when it comes to gardening and horticulture. They have experience, skills, years of practice. All of which lends a sense of authority. Therein presenting me with my next dilemma. I’m not a God of Gardening. I am Psychology teacher with horticultural tendencies, and an allotment plot. How do I write this book?
“Just tell it how it is.”
Not bad advice and a good thing that I wasn’t writing science fiction or romance for that matter. Science fiction, you can make up. Romance is a matter of taste. Allotmenteering, horticulture and gardening, well, you can’t make it up. Not really.
To tell it how it is, was perfect food for thought. To quote Maroon5, having an allotment really isn’t ‘rainbows and butterflies’. There are slugs, snails, and weeds, for one. I wasn’t going to write romance, since working on the plot is hard work. Whilst it does lend itself to having positive effects on both our physical and mental health and wellbeing; it’s as romantic as having a hole in your Wellington boot. (Plus I can grow my own roses; you can buy my diamonds, if you really want to). It is fairly science related. Each and every seed I have sown and cultivated has required some knowledge of Biology and Chemistry. If you count the constructions on the plot, Physics would be part of it too. I was going to write about what I had experienced, what I had learned, and what might be of use to others. I loved it too, something of a bonus.
That helped. When you love something, and it makes you happy; you can engage and make the most of it. Writing about success, failure, and learning from mistakes; made writing the book an evocative experience. The words were crafted over the summer, wandering out the plot the chapters I had listed at the outset started to swell and take shape. Even speaking with colleagues about horticultural therapy and mindfulness whilst at a teaching conference had an impact. Luckily, in the course of the last five years, I had taken pictures. The joys of modern technology meant that I had taken photographs on my smartphone, and these were put into the book and helped make it come alive even further.
Seeing an e-reader version was surreal. My words were there, and for others to read. The cover, was a flower that I had grown. I had taken the photo for a reason, though at the time of taking; I had no idea what it was. It took me a while to register it, and seeing the number of copies sold was fairly ineffable. It took me a while, but I then took another forward step and saw to making an ebook into a paperback. This was even more surreal. I must have stood in the kitchen for a good thirty minutes just looking at it; disbelieving that the book in my hands was mine. My name was on it.
As mentioned previously, there a lots of gardeners out there who write. Epic heavy weights, who are sages (oh, that’s a pun!) and cultivated (another one, sorry) audiences who hang on their every word. Not sure if I am ever going to join their ranks-I can dream, maybe-but I am gardener who writes. I am still a Psychology Teacher with Horticultural tendencies. I enjoyed writing the book. I did my best to pretty much tell it how it was. I do think I fulfilled my aim to share that so that others can have the same successes, maybe avoid the possible failures.
The title of that book, is ‘Playing with plant pots; tales from the allotment’.
I did play on the plot, and learned whilst doing it. It was all a collection of tales. Non-fiction, though.
I wrote a book about Gardening. And I liked it.
Will there be another?
No idea. But if and when it turns up. I’ll let you know.
BUY IT NOW!