Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Writer’s Garden

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 3:9

My mother loves to garden. Come February of every year she brings out her seeds, a pad of paper, and begins to dream. My parents own a nice parcel of land, not so big it’s difficult to manage, but large enough for a few fruit trees and a garden that will, in good years, feed three large families. During the last few weeks of winter she sketches out what she’d like her garden to look like: where she’ll plant her herbs, how many lettuce plants she’ll need, and where the best location for the corn, tomatoes, and other veggies will be.

As soon as the weather begins to warm and the fruit trees start to bloom, she pulls out her starter trays and plants the seeds for her cool crops. She carefully measures the water. She makes sure the seeds stay warm while getting enough sunlight. And she eagerly anticipates the arrival of the first tender shoots.

Spring is here now, and though it’s still too early to transplant her seedlings, she’s already out in the garden with my dad preparing the soil, weeding beds, adding fertilizer, and calling me to brag about how many earthworms she’s uncovered so far.

Most mornings these days you’ll find her outside, walking in her garden and praying. She knows she can provide the hands, that’s she’s responsible to tend and care for each individual plant, but it’s up to God to provide the right mix of rain, sun, heat, and breeze. It’s a full partnership in which both parties have to show up every day from planting to harvest. If she were to go a day without spending time in the garden, it could probably survive, true, but go any longer and all her labor will have been for naught.

I can’t help but see the correlation between my mother’s garden and my writing. Like her I have to show up every day, and each day I have to partner with my Creator. I have seasons for dreaming and planning, but there comes a moment when it’s time to put those plans to action. What am I doing to plant my seeds of ideas? What am I doing to nourish my stories? Do I carefully tend my characters’ needs? Am I willing to prune, cut, and weed the rubbish in order to strengthen my words?

Or am I still sitting at the dining room table dreaming of the amazing book I’ll write someday?

There will be days where it’ll be too hot or too cold, or where I just don’t feel up to putting in the work. But like the garden, if I ignore my writing all I’ll have to show will be field grass and weeds. God can’t bless the work I don’t put in.

So, today, I want to encourage you to plant those seeds you’ve been storing all winter. Watch for growth. Tend each individual sprout. Some will grow, some will wither, and some may be late bloomers. But don’t give up. Spend time each day in your writing garden so when the fall comes we can celebrate a bountiful harvest together — and start dreaming of next year’s crop.



  1. Jen,

    Beautiful post--so appropriate, timely, and thought-provoking. Thank you :-)


  2. I can just see Mom walking in the garden, or kneeling down hands muddy and a little dirt smudged across her forehead from wiping it. This is a great analogy. i love reading your posts. Keep up the good work sis!


  3. Such an appropriate analogy. I love that God commits to "show up" in our garden with us. We aren't out there getting hot and dirty on our own. In fact, sometimes I can "hear" him out there with his roto-tiller working things -- ideas stirring in my mind -- while I sit on my duff lazily contemplating whether I'm in the mood yet to get out there with him.

  4. I appreciate your feedback, ladies. And Terry, I can completely relate. I'm guilty of the same thing!