It’s just about time for World Naked Gardening Day. Here on the Canadian prairies, the first Saturday in May is often not a good day for gardening. That said, there is always something that can be done that becomes part of that project of gardening. Writing books, including writing naturist fiction, has many things that need attention aside from the act of sitting one’s butt into a chair in front of a keyboard, or in front of a stack of paper.
Gardening is all about the prep work as much as it is about planting seeds and gathering the harvest. During the winter, we save as much of our biodegradable organic material as we can, from coffee grinds, to egg shells, and the leavings of vegetable preparation. As soon as the snow melts, I spread the mixture onto the surface of the garden before tilling it into the soil as early as possible. Then, I turn the garden a second time just before it is time to plant seeds and whatever so that the soil is well mixed and ready for new plants. Then, just before we plant the seeds, I set up the climbing material for peas and any other climbing plant we should decide to try in the garden.
The same holds true for writing. To become a writer, for me, meant many years of reading and writing before I was able to write something that perhaps merited being read by others. And it wasn’t just about getting a decent education that involved a lot of writing practice, grammar study, and the reading of books, poems, and plays. A critical component is what I can liken to a seed, is the inherent need to write. Both gardening and writing require more than just doing the work, they require an investment in oneself.
Here I am, having written more than a dozen books, still waiting for the best work to yet emerge. Something within me, buried deep beneath my conscious mind, tells me to keep writing, to not be satisfied with what has already been written. Like my need, even my compulsion to be nude, there is a force that demands more from me. When I ignore this call to write I become depressed and fairly miserable to both myself and those around me. When I honour the call, I am a happier camper and others are treated better.
But, like gardening, there is more to it than writing. Before I can sell a book that has been written, I have to do a lot of work with preparing the book for the public. A cover that actually invites someone to bother opening up the cover. I have to make sure the book is as error-free as I can, usually with the help of others. Then I have to find a market place for the books and convince book sellers to risk shelf space for my book. Generally this requires that I spend time at book-signing events to get the public to begin recognising me as a person and as an author.
As I found out early in this process, there are other things that need attention such as a web presence and a business card. It’s almost as if I need to enrich the soil of the book-buying market by these other activities which seem to be a long way from the writing of books. The pre-work, the tending process once the seeds have been planted, and being present typically gives the harvest a better chance of being successful. Of course any gardener knows this. Nothing is free, you have to invest a lot of sweat, blood, tears, and love to get there. Even then, there are no guarantees.
The payoff? It is actually the process from beginning to end, not the end result.