Another try

acj7000February 9, 2002

Perhaps a manual of sexual positions is way too radical for 'garden writers' so let me ask this ( and if I wake someone from their slumber well a quiet yippee). What do we want to do with our own forum ( we have this space justfor us) Correct me if I am wrong but we could go on regurgitating the same old garbage for ever couldn't we? Or we could talk about modern things. We could help one another (another scary thought-co-operation) but is that the feeling? Do we want this forum to be an exchange of usefull, nay encouraging stuff or me and Elizabeth trying to drag everyone else into some kind of dialogue? You have nothing to lose but your chains.

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I'm not sure what you're getting at. If you want to write about gardening in a new way, go ahead and do it. If there is a market for it, it will sell.

I'm guessing you're not getting much in the way of "dialogue" here because other members have nothing to say on the topic you're trying to address. Some people might even be a little miffed at the suggestion that they are regurgitating garbage.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2002 at 3:36PM
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Elizabeth(z6 S.E. PA)

Well, I appreciate that you're trying. It does seem kind of sad that of the dozen or more forums where I lurk or participate, the writers forum is by far the quietest. You'd think writers would have lots to say. I wonder if some writers are reluctant to write anything for free, or maybe afraid of having ideas ripped off? It does seem like nobody says much until a big famous Name comes along.

For me, I see this and all the forums as a great opportunity and writing exercise. For one thing, it's a chance to "spy" on my readers, to get a feel for who they are, their levels of knowledge, the things they're interested in.

I also use the forums as a daily writing exercise. There's always some topic I never would have thought of myself that suddenly reaches out and grabs my imagination.

Today, for instance, I think it was over in the roses forum. A topic appeared with a title along the lines of, "Do You Have a Spouse Who Doesn't Understand?" Actually, I don't have a spouse at all; I own my own house and am free to plant a million roses and spend a fortune and muck about in the garden until midnight if I please. So who can explain why, but the title tickled some wild hare in my brain and next thing I knew I was typing away, creating myself an imaginary husband! He turned out to be a professor, of all things, with a beard, and he smoked a pipe. Probably a philosophy professor, and since this is Louisiana he's most likely unemployed (we don't have cabs here), and he of course does not understand the first thing about my rose obsession.

Ok, I'll probably never make any money off that particular tangent (unless the bum with the beard gets himself a damn job). But it's still a fine example of a writing exercise. I believe it's essential for me, as a writer, to be constantly developing the kind of reflexes that can churn out a story on the spur of any crazy off the wall idea.

I may be regurgitating the same old garbage, it's true. In a way, that's my job. The essence of garden writing (and gardening for that matter) is somewhat repetitive, and the challenge is to write yet another damn article about spring bulbs or pruning roses or building a pond or whatever and somehow make it fresh and interesting. Yes, I can just go out and do it myself. But I would also love to talk to other writers about how they rise and face this perennial challenge day after day, year after year, etc.

So, thanks for trying again.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2002 at 6:13PM
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My thoughts exactly Elizabeth. If my post 'miffed' anybody enough to respond then this I would consider a result, but it has not happened before.
It is not my intention to start an argument but if that is what it takes to get writers to use this forum then I am game.
For now let me re-phrase and ask 'writers about how they rise and face this perennial challenge day after day, year after year, etc'. Read Elizabeth's post above for the full text.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2002 at 7:36AM
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Dear ajc, We await your specific example of talking about modern things.. Good job on equating yourself with Elizabeth who can write circles around most of us. Yes, you drug us out of our shells and no one could give a more astute retort than Leslie. And Elizabeth, You're not married? Next time you're thinking about an imaginary husband could you think of me. I think brilliant women are sexy, but to turn the topic back to gardening - It does seem that writers rewrite the same topics. The key to success at this seems to come up with a new viewpoint plus a fresh title.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bittersweet Gardens.Com

    Bookmark   February 10, 2002 at 9:14AM
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Well Eddie nice to hear from you but I am not sure how astute it is to say that I am creating no dialogue because people have nothing to say on my topic which follows a confession that she doesn't know what I am getting at. What I am getting at is the fact that there is apparantly NO topic that people want to discuss here. You tried Eddie, and had a reply from Elizabeth and me, and by the way the similarity between us begins and ends with our desire for action on this forum.
I am a garden designer by profession and I have written short stories for a number of years and articles in another genre. Whenever I study the market for garden writing I find most, not all, but most of what is written is superficial and the style dated. There is a serious gap between what is on offer for a beginner and what an old hand might be looking for. Most garden magazines concentrate on pretty pictures which means that even those claiming to represent design major on the horticultural. A really modern approach might be to write about gardens without a list of names, and latin in Italics and in a style that doesn't suggest either drudgery or euphoria.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2002 at 11:04AM
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Elizabeth(z6 S.E. PA)

If I didn't have to worry about money and getting published and churning out what the editors have decided the readers want, I think I would delve more into the psychology and pathology of gardening and garden design.

Me, I am a person of excess and rebellion. My garden (and my house, my clothes, my car, my writing, etc.) is a playground where I can create bizarre and beautiful little fantasy worlds according to my very own pleasure and whim. It's my own little kingdom, a place where I revel in breaking rules.

That's one of the reasons I dislike a lot of garden writing: it mainly consists of lists of rules, the various do's & don'ts, alwayses and nevers. Bah. In my own garden, I prune and feed too early, I plant things too close together, I mix colors that clash, I ignore zones and seasons. I have clearly mixed feelings about Mother Nature. We seem to have developed a stormy, passionate, dysfunctional but somehow enduring relationship. I love her, I loathe her, I throw little procelain teacups at her in a fury and breakup with her, then we put on red stilettos, down a bottle of wine, and dance through the bedding plants together until dawn. Which explains why my pansies are always so bedraggled.

I suppose it's all well & good, but frankly the editors aren't exactly hacking their way through the jungle of my eccentricities to deposit checks in my bank account.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2002 at 12:48PM
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acj, I'm just having trouble trying to figure out what your proposed dialogue is about. If your goal is to begin an interesting discussion, there should be a topic on the table. What "modern things" do you want to discuss or write about? What is it you want help with, or how do you want to help other writers?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2002 at 4:19PM
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Sorry Leslie I cannot put it any plainer. If you are content with the subliminal way that garden writers communicate with one another via this forum you have a better sense of the psychic than I do. Perhaps others see this as a place to ask for or give help whereas I would like to see it as an exchange (dialogue) amongst equals which would not exclude the help aspect. Why can't you figure out what I am saying? Let me ask you a question; what do you want from a garden writers forum?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2002 at 5:51PM
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hayefield(Zn 6)

In each of the dozen or so fora I visit here, there seem to be two kinds of participants: people who want to get or give specific information, and people who enjoy more wide-ranging discussions on gardening principles or just life in general. So why can't this forum be the same? If you want to have discussions, great. We can all respect that and are interested to hear what you have to say. But in turn, it's only fair to respect those who come here for advice on specific work-related topics, and not make them out to be selfish or ignorant.

I might also point out that Spike provides this forum (and all the others) to use as we see fit. Participating by posting messages is one good way to show your support; another, more tangible way to to become a contributing member of Gardenweb, to help ensure this marvelous resource is here for all of us in the future.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2002 at 9:03AM
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Elizabeth(z6 S.E. PA)

Fora! Good for you Hayefield. I've tended to be a little squeamish when it comes to fora but what the heck, maybe it's time to just get a grip and start talking like a grownup.

I'd be happy to see any kind of discussions in this forum: specific or general, molecular or philosophical, virgin beginner or jaded Famous Author, huggy-feely support group or hostile chorus of boredom. It's all an improvement over stone cold silence.

And yes, three cheers for Spike and his Fabulous Fora. I'd hate to see this one get dumped for lack of vitality.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2002 at 10:04AM
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hayefield(Zn 6)

Er, just kind of popped out. I usually try to cast sentences so I don't have to use either "fora" or "forums."

In the spirit of open communication, I'd like to say, Elizabeth, how much I enjoyed your response to the "Writers as Speakers?" thread. I think many speakers could benefit from the gentle approach you have used. I also think there's much to be said for your suggestion of writing with "kindness, patience, acceptance, gentle humor, [and] metaphorical eye contact." The gardening book I'm currently reading, for instance, is full of thought-provoking concepts and "new" ideas (well, new to me, anyway), but it's so desperately serious, I get depressed reading it. The challenge we all face is to write content-filled material but in a way that's accessible to readers. And I think a friendly, encouraging--and even consipratorial--tone makes any garden writing a lot more fun to read!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2002 at 11:28AM
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Bogart(6 Ont.)

If flora is to fauna, then fora is to...(fill in the blank)?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2002 at 9:53PM
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Elizabeth(z6 S.E. PA)

Flauna? (As in, "Iffa you gotta it, flauna it!")

Thanks, Hayefield. A real priroity for me is getting to know my audience, the people who might on a good day be convinced to read my stuff. Who are they and what do they want? Does it matter if they're men or women, young or old, urban or rural? How much, if any, should my writing be affected by what I suppose to be true of their level of education, political persuasion, sexual orientation, etc.?

A few months ago I tossed off a parody column called "Pruning the Roses with Ernest Hemingway." (It had often occured to me that rose pruning and bull fighting have much on common.) I really expected my editor to reject it, even though he's always given me complete license to write any whacked out thing I want (occasionally cesoring a mild profanity here and there). I certainly didn't expect more than two or three readers to appreciate it. I just didn't believe there was a whole lot of overlap between rose fanatics and Hemingway scholars. But the column was due two days before Christmas, and nothing else seemed to want to pop into my head. Well, to my utter amazement it turned out to be the most popular damn thing I've ever written. I was flooded with fan mail and requests to reprint it in various rose society newsletters. The whole brouhaha caused me to regroup and rethink who the heck I imagine is reading what I write.

Maybe that whole subject deserves a thread of its own.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2002 at 10:02AM
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susanne_OR(7ish OR)

I agree with Elizabeth that forums are an excellent place to stretch one's writing a way, this is today's vanity press -- getting your work read doesn't require an editor's or publisher's approval.

I'd like to see more posts showcasing contributors' gardening writing in addition to the writing about writing.

acj -- how about some examples of what you have in mind. I loved Elizabeth's depiction of dancing til dawn with Mother Nature...the image of Mother Nature soused on Mateus, or perhaps Merlot, is delightful! This is an excellent place to test an idea that you may think is too off-the-wall for your editors..that esoteric piece that only another writer would enjoy...the short snippet that doesn't add up to an article, but is nonetheless enjoyable...your own personal garden journal (while perhaps a cliche, I always read these). How about the lurking poets out there? Garden haiku?

Time is always at a premium, especially when you are not compensated for it, but as Elizabeth noted, this is great practice, and as Harlan Ellison says, if you aren't writing, you're not a writer.

I'm off to dust off some odd tidbits I've stashed away, so see you later...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2002 at 5:31PM
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Elizabeth(z6 S.E. PA)

Thank you, susanne. I had completely forgotten I ever wrote that, about getting drunk with Mother N and dancing in the moonlight in red stilettos etc. Relationship update: we're no longer on speaking terms. She's insane! Unpredictable! Bipolar! Toxic! Dysfunctional! I'm thinking of joining a weekly support group for People Who Trusted Mother Nature and Were Betrayed. I'm never going out in the yard again. I'll just stay indoors like Boo Radley and send out for pizzas. Oh, I know in a few weeks she'll come back, begging me to forgive her and promising that this time she really means it. But it's too late. I'm throwing out my high heels and switching to brogans. And this time I really mean it.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2002 at 11:12AM
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Hi Susanne nice to hear from you. Well I think we could have some fun here, look at my Kama Sutra thread for one way that this forum could be used. That is as a writing exercise or as a way to view a topic in a different way. This may help dislodge a block or just be an irrelevant way of flexing muscles (I think I have a body building fixation!). I am not claiming a superior position and I am open to other ideas. I do think that we are wasting an opportunity and this is why I have tried to drag other writers into making this forum something more profound than a promotion vehicle for well known authors.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2002 at 3:21PM
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susanne_OR(7ish OR)

Elizabeth -- what's with that hussy, anyway? Personally, I think she's laughing at us -- after a week of glorious sun (not to be taken lightly here in Portland), she sends snow in March! Every year she plays Lucy to my Charlie Brown, holding out spring like a football, and every year I kick, landing on my back in the mud....

acj -- your Kama Sutra thread is wonderful, not to mention your "potato" follow-up to the tale of the horrid holly over on the tree forum. I want more!

I just ran across the following garden journal kept by a New Zealander -- I've only begun her first year of the journal (1997), so I don't know what intrigue lies ahead, but so far I love reading about "horsepoos" and "old sillies," and the day she accidentally watered her radio and couldn't listen to her cricket match.

Here is a link that might be useful: New Zealand garden journal

    Bookmark   March 10, 2002 at 10:25PM
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Hi to all on this forum. I was snooping around for an interesting list. I think I have found you! Nothing like people with intelligence and passion. I should be bagging up my dahlias but since I am also a florist and just worked the last 11 days with only one day off in the middle, I am drained. I was looking for something a little soothing for my brains. I will look back at some of the topics and check this out further. The only writing I have done in the past few years (had to make the time for) was for the dahlia clubs and local newspapers. Is there poetry on here?
from Karen on rainy Vancouver Island.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2002 at 9:09PM
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Elizabeth(z6 S.E. PA)

Welcome Karen! See what you can do to liven things up around here.

Susanne, thanks so much for the link to the delightful New Zealand garden diary. I love it. "This is a brilliant idea of Astrids, keeping a diary. It's cheaper than travelling around England writing a diary. My children think that I'm a twit. O well... Today I won't do any gardening, because I am going to watch the cricket one-dayer." Ha!

I've recently joined a mailing list for adults with dyspraxia, which is a kind of senory-integration developmental disorder that makes people eternally clumsy, klutzy, and hopelessly dorky. Most of the members are from the UK (the health insurance over there recognizes it as a genuine medical disorder) and I'm utterly charmed by their little Briticisms. The other day we were discussing how for some mysterious reason the tags and labels in our clothes are always sticking out. They pipe up with, "Oh it drives my husband potty when I wear my jumper outside in." (Sounds like dyspraxia is practically an epidemic over there.) Anyway, I'm afraid I'm abducting several of the pottier dyspraxics to be characters in an impending short story, and your New Zealander and her garden are on the verge of joining them.

Somebody tried to start a topic about garden writing in fiction a few weeks ago, but Spike erased it before I could jump on the bandwagon. But here you are: I'm working a piece of short fiction and this New Zealand diary has suddenly introduced a garden and a gardener into my story! So I think I can safely mention it here.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2002 at 11:20PM
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Where did you people go? Is everyone working or in the garden or what?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2002 at 8:48AM
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laa_laa(Sunset /8 or 9)

Can a forum this old be resuscitated? I was looking for threads on Haiku and "search" directed me to this one. It is really interesting and I have read more recent entries from some of the contributors....but haven't run into others on this forum since I began reading here.
I was fascinated by the New Zealand Garden journal and her style of writing. Is it more complete? I'll have to go back to the web site and see if I can get an address for it. I don't know if this will show on the forum for today, but I hope it might. Lina.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 5:52PM
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pkock(z6 OH)

I suspect that some don't post here because they're afraid of being critiqued. I admit that I am - not on my writing skills so much (which aren't perfect, but good I think) but on my education and credentials or lack thereof.

I've had gardening articles published nationally, but does that make me a garden writer? Hm...sounds similar to the thread I started several months ago. ;-)

So many writers' forums do suffer this same fate, really. I think it has something to do with the tendency to group ourselves as "real writers" and "amateur writers". In a group of all amateurs, most folks are friendly. In a group of "real writers" - which is a subjective term - we have this certain lack of support.

What if one of the goals for this group was to help each other sell our work? What if we used this forum as a form of networking, not just discussion/bragging/insulting? Hm?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 1:23AM
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big_john(z6b LI NY)

rose thorns thrash five year old skin
vase full of flowers

bless you.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 5:56AM
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It was more than two years ago that this thread began and some of the people mentioned were banned for their radical views, elizabeth is perhaps the most missed contributor.
It was more than two years ago that first mention came of haiku, big john finally wrote one, a few syllables short but I like it.
It was more than four years ago that this forum began pkock, long enough to discover that garden writers have skin that is easily thrashed thiner than a five year olds or more brittle than a Wall Mart vase.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 6:46PM
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pinetree30(Sierra Westside)

Maybe we could spend a week on suggestions for tasteless garden accesories. For example, does anybody have a source of Ronald Reagan pots for storing manure? Surely this would be a fascinating topic for an article.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 1:01AM
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big_john(z6b LI NY)

Waddaya mean a few syls. short?
Lookit where RE: Another try s/be.
Criticism!...see Big John cry.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 5:25AM
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I may be your biggest
the flames that tears dowse
in disguise.

Count that.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 5:54PM
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big_john(z6b LI NY)

The count in disguise
tears down the facade that hides
a pauper's hard life.

Three down.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 11:30PM
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Mask a beggars pleas pause briefly
derail the crossword
one across ...magic

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 7:00PM
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big_john(z6b LI NY)

Swords fend off the poor
cross words between the beggars
Merlin suggests cake.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 8:32PM
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poppa(z5 MA)

What the heck is this?
Who rules the count anyway?
the effect is the same...

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 8:30AM
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Heckling overrules effect
especially when undercooked
kneed the dough?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 5:49PM
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poppa(z5 MA)

Sarcasm is yeast
wasted making honey bread
on a play-dough mind

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 8:45AM
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