Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Less Ordered Gardens

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.
Olde English Nursery Rhyme



My late father had two sayings he repeated. The first was, “I’m always right,” said in jest, sort of. The second was, “you should write in a less ordered way.” The latter he said in all seriousness, but with affection and the intent to help my writing.


I could blame my structured writing on reading and incorporating too much writing conventions and advice. But, in truth, I am a person who fears disorder. My living space has everything in place, and I spent much time putting it just so.


I thought about it the other day when I walked by two homes one next to the other. The first had gardening of tight orderliness, and the second resisted it.

As I looked at them side by side, (photographs of the actual gardens below) I could hear my father's voice telling me to loosen some of my ordered ways.

The cultivated wild look is known as an English-style garden. I much prefer them to the French gardens, so manicured and carved to perfect symmetry. English gardens take as much work to control and sustain, but they look as if nature could have sprung them forth.
French Style Garden^

English Style garden^

Great stories are the same. They have bones, (for coherent meaning, which comes from internal symmetry) but feel organic, as if one unexpected thing led to another to make a living thing.


I’m in the midst of first drafting a less ordered story. Yes, my father was right.

© By Shelagh Duffett


11 comments:

Vijaya said...

Your father is right, but like you, I resist disorder, and it stunts my writing, esp. when I'm drafting. I highly recommend a book called Writing in the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith. It freed me. Oh, I still outline and think through the plot but I'm looser with the actual writing. I love English gardens.

Evelyn said...

Best wishes on your new story. I tend to be very organized in some aspects of my life and disorganized in others. Keeping a clean, neat house is not a high priority with me. You'd probably go crazy in my house. :) But my granddaughters love it.

Kelly Hashway said...

Trying again to comment. Fingers crossed.

Kelly Hashway said...

Ooh! I think it worked!

I can’t keep a garden. I’m all for drafts in any format as long as it gets written. 😉

Mirka Breen said...

I'm learning to tend to an English garden right now... :)

Mirka Breen said...

I'd love it, too, Ev. I'm no Martha Stewart.

We are: Clamco said...

Interesting quote from your father. My brain doesn't function amidst disorder. I cannot sit down to paint unless I know everything else has been taken care of first so my space is clear, my mind is clear, and the hours ahead are clear. As for gardens, I like the English version best. I despise hedge trimmers, but love to hand prune for a more natural look.

Tina Cho said...

Very interesting analogy, Mirka! And they both turn out quite lovely!

Sherry Ellis said...

I think it all depends on one's personality. Some people flourish when things go as they may. Others need order to feel less overwhelmed and produce. I like the garden pictures. Both pretty but very different!

Mirka Breen said...

I always thought I was a combination of both, with an outline and a lot of "on the spot" detours. I see now I was closer to the planner sort of writer. So this time I'm working closer to the panster sort, with only the vaguest outline. I'm liking the challenge of change, and hope for a blooming English garden. I think my only fuel is hope ;)

Damyanti said...

I do love the English style garden... It feels more natural.