Saturday, November 22, 2008

Garden Views: Things Are Not Always What They Seem

This week on my personal blog,, I talk about our experience in moving our propane tank. I have lived on this property for most of my adult life, as well as for a large part of my childhood. I thought I understood it. I thought I knew where everything was. But when I wanted to move the propane tank, I discovered that what I had thought was a solid rock ledge (after all there is rock ledge on either side of it) turned out to be a respectable layer of topsoil. So too, with writing. Breathes there a writer anywhere who hasn’t attempted to read the editorial tea leaves? The meaning behind, “You have a lovely book, but ……?” I was sure that an editor who seemed enthusiastic about an article on native plants had changed his mind, only to have him assign it to me 14 months later. He had not responded to any of my follow-up e-mails, but things were not as they seemed.

I was certain my book would sell when the proposal made it all the way into the weekly editorial meeting of a huge publishing house. It didn’t. Two years later, I’ve recast it in a different format, based on the comments of editors who turned it down. One who declined it two years ago now “can’t wait to read it.” She revealed that she is an avid gardener. Another responded immediately with a request to see the proposal. Things are not always as they seem.

What does it all mean? It means I’ve made some progress. Because, in those intervening two years, I poked around. Just like I had my husband poke around the rock ledge with a crowbar to help us decide whether moving the propane tank was even a possibility. I poked around on gardening blogs, academic web sites, illustrator’s blogs, Publishers Weekly, Media Bistro, Publisher’s Lunch, and various gardening trade sites. I wasted a lot of time, but I also learned some things that are important to both writing and marketing my book (and myself). It looked as if I wasn’t doing anything, but things are not always as they seem.

Sometimes, things DO turn out to be the way they seem, and just in case THIS is that time, we’ve broken out champagne twice in the past week. Cheap champagne. We’re saving the Dom Perignon for the contract.

Lois de Vries' thoughts on gardening and environmental issues run the gamut from gardening in her own back yard to promoting land management practices that reconnect people to the Earth. Lois is seeking a publisher for her book, The Transformational Power of Gardening. Visit her blog at

No comments: