I hate pulling weeds. I’d rather be writing. Yet last Thursday those nasty little creatures beckoned to me until I walked trance-like out to the side of the house and began ripping them out with retribution. And they literally beckoned to me; I heard their maniacal titters as I hunched over their spiky heads, for they knew the harder I worked, the faster and more abundantly they’d grow back, especially if I glanced in another direction.
But call me dim-witted; I didn’t wear gloves. Whether it’s the bulkiness of the fabric that blocks my sense of touch, or the lack of fashion, or the drudgery of walking all the way to the garage to retrieve them off the shelf, I just won’t wear them. As a result, twenty minutes into my love fest with these pests, a blister formed on my index finger, a wound that is still quite tender as I type this post.
Why do I put myself through such torture, when I know my salvation (my gloves) is only a few yards away? For one, I love the feel of freshly-turned dirt in my hands. I also get a better grip on the objects of my aggression. After a week or so, the blistered spot eventually becomes hardened, providing me a tougher surface with which to attempt the task again, provided I don’t let too much time pass before my next visit.
However, in the midst of the resulting jagged fingernails and worn skin, all pain is forgotten when I experience the end result: a colorful garden, the fresh smell of overturned earth, thriving plants blooming in their weed-free environment.
"And what is the point of this gardening lesson?" I hear someone ask. My answer: It reminds me of writing.
Often my writing contains an abundance of weeds. Nasty little problems like clashing points of view, passive voice, messy grammar, and flat scenes that fail to advance my plot. They are nuisances, and sometimes they take over before I realize they are even there. Maybe my gloves, the bits and pieces of research, the help of a writer’s group, or the expertise of a dictionary, are available to me, but I am too embarrassed to ask for help or too lazy to get up from my chair, and there is so much research to do that one more fact about Newaygo, Michigan will clog my brain beyond repair.
The inevitable blisters eventually form, like writer’s block or unwanted scenes that have to be thrown out. I realize some of the blisters might have been avoided with a little more preparation, or more motivation, maybe even less pride. Call me crazy, but I, for one, welcome the blisters. They force me to take a different approach or to seek the help of another author, and as I deal with the pain, the blisters toughen me and make me a better writer. Sometimes the ache comes close to breaking me, but, oh, how I love the feel of the keyboard beneath my fingers when I come back after a break. And the best part of working through the pain is how glorious my manuscript turns out when I finally complete my work.