Saturday, December 06, 2008

Garden Views: Art is a Personal Choice

As I shop my book, I’m learning how important it is to know one's own mind. In advance. Every time we begin a new piece of work, we make choices that determine the place we think our work should occupy in the world. If those choices are not made consciously and purposefully, we feel lost and indecisive when obstacles pop up.

For example, one editor explained that, for the immediate future, they are only acquiring more practical, informational books. The Transformational Power of Gardening is not that kind of book.

Should I try proposing a different book, one that is informational? I certainly have the knowledge, experience, background, and raw material to do so. If my motivation were only to see my name on a book cover, or to offer my book ideas as commodities, it would be a painless decision. One that would actually make my life easier.

But I have spent decades composing informational or practical content: Planetarium scripts that taught astronomical facts; radio scripts that told listeners about the latest developments in business; advertising blurbs for industrial products; corporate instructional manuals; a wastewater treatment monograph; operation manuals for equipment; do-it-yourself articles for magazines; specialized newspapers; newsletters; and in my current volunteer life, grant applications and environmental reports.

Now I want to tell the world about my own “big idea,” an aspect of gardening that has never been discussed before; one that reaches far beyond the mechanics of gardening and into the mind of the gardener. I chose this topic right from the very beginning because it intrigued me, and I knew that it would intrigue other gardeners.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll never write a practical gardening book. In fact, I have ideas for a half-dozen mainstream titles. They just don’t interest me nearly as much as The Transformational Power of Gardening does right now.

Artists of all stripes must choose, at some point, whether to “go commercial.” That is, perhaps, the easier route but it means writing, or painting, or sculpting according to a formula known to produce sales, rather than the uncertain, winding path of producing art that springs from our own creative core. More difficult, but much more satisfying.

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

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