Last night I hosted a book club author visit with the lovely Jennifer Quist. A splendid time was had by all, but as all the guests were leaving, Jenn asked me to show her around my “famous” garden–referring to my horticultural exploits of the last four years being documented at CanadianGardening.com.
My gut reaction: horror.
1. It’s been a weird spring;
2. I live in an agricultural area, which means lawn=mowed weeds;
3. We have 1.4 acres to tend, after we finish tending our 5 kids, a day job, and, you know, life; and
4. Quack grass has a personal vendetta against me.
To be totally honest, my yard is a mess. I’m not being precious or self-depreciating here; it’s bad. I’ve been pretty up front about my lack of pristine order, but I still usually frame all my photos to crop out the worst of the carnage, and focussed on what I was doing and learning. Now, I had an actual person, outside of my family, here to witness what is easily the messiest spring I’ve had in seven or eight years.
I toured her around anyway, knowing her to be a generous soul, and I was suitably embarrassed but not uncomfortable. There won’t be any glossy spreads featuring my patch of dirt anytime soon, but Jenn wasn’t horrified at all… at least, she didn’t show it. It’s a work in progress, and I’m okay with that.
Which got me thinking about a conversation we’d had earlier in the evening, in regards to sharing our writing before it’s published. She and I both are incredibly private with our work–her husband didn’t even read her (fabulous) first novel until the advance reading copy arrived from the publisher. “Which is the wrong way to do it!” she said emphatically. Sharing and getting early feedback is so incredibly valuable as a writer, and I think it really applies to most things in life: if we hide what’s really going on, we only prevent ourselves from getting feedback, and probably wind up thinking everyone else is fine, when they’re most definitely dealing with some of the same problems and questions we are. I’m not talking about airing your dirty laundry on Facebook here; just about being a little more real with each other.
So here’s what’s real: I’m a respected garden writer, and get treated as an ‘expert’ by media and industry notables. I also have a rampant weed problem, have killed numerous innocent plants, and don’t have my veggie garden planted yet because yes, I actually used some glyphosate last week. Sue me. If you’re garden isn’t perfect, neither is mine. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying it.
Here’s what else is real: I’m not just a garden writer; I have a novel on the go as well as an inspirational book and I’m helping my husband get his YA novel polished. I also Facebook and watch TED talks when I could be writing, have horrible self doubt, and sometimes create such a mess on the page that I start to doubt wether I have anything at all to say. And I’m afraid of crit groups and haven’t showed my husband more than a few pages of anything I’ve written.
But I’m not going to let that stop me from enjoying it. It’s a work in progress.