Friday, August 14, 2009

Hollyhocks and Writing

I was taking a break from the computer earlier today and cutting back my hollyhocks. Hollyhocks are a stately perennial here in Oregon. They grow incredibly long stalks covered with delicate flowers. Mine are in shades of purple, pink and yellow. As I was cleaning up the debris left by dying flowers and clipping back dead stalks, I though how like writing these hollyhocks can be.

When they are too crowded, they develop rust, a rather nasty disease which causes the leaves to turn yellow and die prematurely. If my writing is too densely written with excess adverbs, too many descriptions, and long, boring sentences, the story, too, will die prematurely. When the hollyhocks have plenty of sunlight and room to breathe, they are more likely to be healthy. This is true of my prose as well when I allow myself to write concisely and keep my words focused.

As the hollyhock stalks grow, large flower buds sprout along the length of the stalk. When my writing is good, beautiful prose will emerge. As the flowers die back, they drop off, falling to the ground where they compost. So, too, my prose will wilt and die if it isn't tended properly, edited and sent off to a publication. If I let it sit in a drawer or on the computer, it will lose its color and excitement.

If the flowers are carefully tended, pruned as needed, watered and given the right amount of sunlight, they are gorgeous to behold. So, too, my writing will flourish if I write carefully, follow grammatical rules, prune unnecessary words, and get constructive help when needed.

Just as my hollyhocks need tending every day, my writing thrives and grows healthy by practicing good writing techniques. As you tend to your own writing, keep the stately hollyhock in mind and allow your talents to grow and blossom.

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