How Books Resemble Flowers

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Writing a story is like growing a flower in the sense that you can’t rush it. The plant won’t bloom if you don’t give it the care it requires: some need more water, others wither if you give them too much.

I learned through gardening and writing that it’s best not to control things too much. If you smother anything, it will suffocate. The blooms in my garden prove that the wait, though taxing, is worthwhile. So do the drafts on my hard drive.

Flowers that take longest to grow are not necessarily lovelier. The zinnia and the Morning Glory both take my breath away. In this way, long stories are not better: a thousand-page Dostoevsky immerses me, as does the short A Christmas Carol.

The same is true for poetry, even free-verse. I have gained much from fantasy novels as well as history books. There is no point trying to control everything because, if loved enough, flowers and stories are always lovely.

I’m familiar with the sensation of wanting to finish writing sooner. Rushing a story will not make it better. A seedling must be tended with patience if we want flowers; good novels require the same care. We should let each novel grow as tall or bold as it wishes.

We cannot control everything–if we do, we risk destroying it.

I’m turning away from methods that promise a novel in thirty days. Instead, I’ll focus on watering the flowers: nourishing the story and treating it as if it were alive. I know the story will be happier in the long run, and so will I.

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