Pruning the roses

Pruning the roses

This afternoon I was pruning roses, as you do on Christmas Eve. It started out to give Mr Z more space to get through to his veggie patch, but once I started, I kept going. I now have a number of band aids on my fingers from where the thorns pricked me. On the plus side, the rose bush looks a lot better and our green bin is full ready for rubbish day this week.

What has this got to do with my writing journey? More than you may think. While I was cutting up the rose bush cuttings into small pieces, I started to think about what pruning roses has to do with writing, more specifically editing.

I am not the greatest gardener in the World. To be honest, I have inherited my mother’s black thumbs. I was given a plant by my boss as a Christmas gift two weeks ago, and it’s already dead. One thing I seem to grow is roses – so long as they were planted before I moved into the house I’m living in…

The roses grow however they like for most of the time. Every so often I get inspired and start pruning. The beauty of pruning roses, at least the roses where I live, is that I can cut them off anywhere and they will still grow! After pruning, they will grow better and look more beautiful than they did before. Sometimes they need a lot of pruning in order to grow in the way that I want them to. The rose bush in our side garden still doesn’t grow the way we want it to… it insists on growing over the gate.

With my writing, I find that I need to let it just flow for a while. The stories will take shape and almost write themselves, but the they need editing. Some pieces need a lot of editing and others not so much, but in order to get them to a place where they are good enough to submit for publishing, they need to be pruned.

I’m sure a skillful gardener will be able to tame my roses much more than I can, and it’s the same with editing. Often it calls for a skillful editor to turn my writing into something that is suitable for publication. Both pruning roses and editing writing is necessary for growth and development.

Thankfully, editing isn’t as hard on the fingers as pruning the roses is!

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  1. Mary Horsfall says:

    As a gardener, writer and ex-editor I love the analogy. Editing isn’t as hard on the fingers, but is much harder on the psyche. Also, roses are usually more forgiving than editors.

    • Very true, though with my currently shredded fingers and pricks along my arms, I’m not completely sure about roses being more forgiving than editors! lol

  2. lovely analogy Melissa. Here’s hoping your shredded fingers recover over the Christmas break. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  3. I love the analogy, also. I still don’t know if I am going to do anything with a 50,000 plus word manuscript I wrote for NaNoWriMo, but thinking of “pruning” rather than “editing” makes me a little more willing to give the manuscript a second look. Maybe there will be something worthwhile hidden in the undergrowth.

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