Writing and the Art of Gardening

A guest post by mystery author R. Franklin James

In an effort not to become a one-dimensional author I took up gardening. After signing my second publishing contracts to produce the Hollis Morgan Mystery Series over the next five years, I soon realized that without some meaningful distraction my brain would be sucked into the vortex of fictional characters appearing as real life.

I decided on gardening for two reasons: it wasn’t aerobic and I didn’t have to leave home.

Doing a limited amount of research I discovered that growing tomatoes takes a minimum amount of effort, money and time. Tomatoes also have numerous hybrid varieties that are pest resistant, produce perfect color and can last for weeks. Alas, in trade you must give up the actual taste of a tomato. I mean you lose the taste of tomatoes of old, where the flavor and juiciness was reminiscent of plump fruit or as substantive as a main course.

It reminded me of writing. I know the association may initially appear obscure, but bear with me just a moment.

Tomatoes, although treated as a vegetable, are actually a fruit. Without getting into the entomology of plant life, evidently food that grows with seeds from the source plant is fruit. Additionally, tomatoes do not need a lot of space and time for caretaking.

Writing is the same.

A computer or even pen and paper are all you need to write. Writing has minimum space requirements and there are numerous fictional hybrids or genres to choose from. Over the years technology has entered our lives and made editing and revisions a breeze and the keyboard has replaced the pen.

Writing is now pest resistant.

Those pesky typos, misspellings, double spaces after a period can be eliminated with the stroke of a function key. Even name changes, or reducing the number of “nodded’s” can be updated with “Find/Replace”. And the pièce de résistance is the “Track Changes” key that maintains the corrections path, even as our brains struggle to remember the location of an errant sentence.

In exchange for the gift of technology, cursive is no longer taught in schools; spelling has become a lost art and whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, snail mail is not acceptable.

But unlike tomatoes, the quality of writing still relies on me.

Storytelling and the ability to entertain readers, compels us to keep our butts in the chair and produce what we hope are memorable passages of thought reduced to words. And it is the combination of those words that we hope will touch others the same way they have touched us. For an author, writing is a passion and like gardening it must be tended to and hopefully loved.


R. Franklin James is the author of the Hollis Morgan Mystery Series. Her first novel, The Fallen Angels Book Club was released in 2013. The second book in the series, Sticks & Stones was released in 2014, and the third book, The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club will be released in May 2015. Her website is: www.rfranklinjames.com.