Friday, July 1, 2011

Having a vision and digging in

When I finally got around to building a green house, I had a vision of where I wanted it. At the very back of my garden in the most inconvenient spot possible, the only access being by foot.

I had to tear down part of the fence and cut down a couple trees.

And, since my garden is on a hillside, and I didn’t want my green house sticking up into the sky, I decided to dig into the hillside. Digging a hole that’s almost three feet deep at the top end and 12 x 14 feet all around was way more of a project than I thought it’d be. It took me a couple of summers.

When I was done digging, I realized that I wanted a long narrow box on the south-facing wall to take advantage of the sun, so I dug some more.

Then I realized I wanted a flat spot in front of the green house so I dug some more.

I could have put my green house at the edge of my driveway in an already-cleared flat spot but I didn’t want it there because I didn’t think it would look good and it might get in the way. But it sure would’ve been easy, and fast.

In order to get my green house where I wanted it, where I envisioned it, I had to have a lot of patience and perseverance. And I had to be willing to put in the time, and to tear up things I’d already built.

I think this process can be applied to writing. You have a story idea and you have a vision, however vague or specific, of how that story will be told, of how your readers will experience it. Because really, that’s what it comes down to. It’s how you tell your story.

The easy way might not be the best. And you want the best.


  1. Tearing up things we've already built. That sounds a lot like the re-writing/revisions I'm in the middle of.

  2. Paul, my writing projects always take longer than I expect them to! They never quite reach that perfect way I envisioned them, but always feel the work is worth it.

  3. This is a good analogy. I often need to see the concept first to have that "vision" but once I get started I add features (like you did to the greenhouse) that I hadn't thought of before. That's where my blog name, Beanstalks & Bookends, comes in. I think the seed is the idea (the vision) and the beanstalk is the implementation and the realization of the vision (what the seed becomes). And who knows how high that beanstalk can grow! Great post, Paul.

  4. This plays into something I have been working on a long time. I'm not good at outlining and I find I often have to redo things and add as the story builds. By the way, awesome greenhouse!

  5. I covet your greenhouse, Paul! And you're right. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, especially in writing.

  6. You're totally right - hard work pays off

  7. I saw Larry Brooks speak at a conference recently and he is a HUGE believer in outlining and spending time on the story structure. I wasnt a believer before, but I am now. HIs website is Storyfix by the way.

  8. agree with timmytherobot :) well done, hope it goes as planned for ya :) +followed

  9. When I wrote the follow up to my debut, the second half came too easy. I knew there was something missing. Much to my dismay, I rewrote it twice thereafter--the hard way! I mean, if a book could kill you, this one would have! Anyway, it paid off. I love the book now and the hard work was so worth it! Hopefully readers will agree. :)

    I too covet your greenhouse, Paul! ;)

  10. Hilary and Tim, when you both come to Alaska for future book signings, I'll give you a tour of the greenhouse. If you come in August you can pick the vine-ripe cherry tomatoes and eat them. :-) :-)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!