Monday, 11 June 2018
About Sunflowers, by Deborah Jenkins
I am sorry to say I am very late writing my post for the blog this month. I.e. It's due tomorrow, it's 9 pm and I am only just starting. There are lots of good reasons for this actually so I'm not going to feel as bad as I usually make myself feel in such circumstances. But I wanted you to know, because this month, my post will be short and about sunflowers.
In London, we had a rectangular garden with no trees (apart from two hesitant saplings). But there was an alleyway down one side and trees hung over, to give interest and shade. Also we had lots of pots and a few nervous shrubs. And sunflowers. The garden had been effectively razed when we rebuilt the house so it was in its infancy, and dramatic flowers like poppies and sunflowers gave it a bit of pzazz, some character. We had a good routine there while we were waiting for the hesitant saplings and the nervous shrubs to grow, and the garden always looked quite good but didn't need a huge amount of work. We loved our sunflowers. We grew them in the house by the patio windows and as soon as they were a few inches high, we planted them out. They grew fast and tall in that good soil and gave us and others enormous pleasure.
Here, in the country,our garden is more mature with trees, confident shrubs and a big vegetable garden (at the front!). We decided not to do much for a year, just to see what we had. But we had to have sunflowers. It was exciting planting the seeds in a greenhouse this year. I felt like a proper gardener. But, just as the sunflowers were ready to plant out, I had to go away suddenly for a week. Then things became really busy with family and work commitments and the sunflowers got left too long.
This afternoon, I finally had time to plant them out. Yes, I know. I should have been writing this blog post. But I was thinking about it when I was planting. Because many of the sunflowers were too tall or thin or weak and unable to stand without immediate support. Of course, we always stake them, but usually they are capable of holding themselves up, at that height. But they had become weak and flabby. In the greenhouse they had had too much of the good life, for too long.
It occurred to me that, sometimes, we can be like that with our writing. We enjoy encouragement, and positive feedback and praise. But if we go too long without any constructive criticism (or any type of criticism), we become annoyed and resentful when we get it. And if we put our work out there, it's inevitable that one day, we'll get it. I have been writing textbooks again, for a different company. The editor has sent back my manuscript with so many questions and changes that I have become quite irritable. This did not happen with my last set of books. There were very few changes over four books and for a bigger (more reputable) company. And I suppose I just began to think, you know, I'm clearly gifted at writing textbooks. I became like the sunflowers in the greenhouse - too big for my boots, but not strong, not able to withstand the winds of criticism and correction.
So here's to sunflowers, planted out quickly that they may grow strong. And here's to our writing, that we may learn what we need to, without delay. And get better.
I told you it would be short (and about sunflowers)
Please click on the link to see the novella on amazon
Deborah Jenkins is a freelance writer and school teacher, who has written articles, text books, devotional notes and short stories. She also writes regularly for the TES. She has completed a novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an Amazon e-book and is currently working on a full length novel. Deborah loves hats, trees and small children. After years overseas with her family, who are now grown up, she lives in East Sussex with her husband, a Baptist minister, and a cat called Oliver.