Writing a book

I’m beyond excited! I’ve written a book and now GroundedA Gardener’s Journey to Abundance and Self-Sufficiency is available to pre-order here.

At the start of 2020, I met book publishers Maddy and Tim Harland of Permanent Publications and Maddy suggested that the story of creating an abundant garden from a bare field would be a great book. Over the next couple of months we talked and firmed up the idea. She suggested that I send her a synopsis, which would have been great if I had just known what that might look like or how to go about writing it.

My dear friend Huw, who has already published two best-selling books, Veg in One Bed and Grow Food for Free, talked me through the process and gave me the confidence to put fingers to keyboard (that doesn’t sound as nice as pen to paper) and write a synopsis and book framework for the book.

Grounded was taking shape. I knew exactly what the book would be about, it’s basic structure – it’s skeleton and as I had lived the subject that would become the flesh and bones of the book, I could just write from the heart and make the concept become a reality. Easy, peasy – in theory!

What I found very difficult was knowing what to leave out, what you, as a reader, might find interesting and what would be too much detail. I hope that I have found that magical formula that turns a collection of words about a series of events into an engaging story.

I’ve learnt so much about me, about how I work, when I work and how chaotic or not my thinking processes can be. I had told myself that I would write a certain number of words a day in the early morning, but that didn’t work for me. I found it took me a while to read back through some of what I’d written previously to be able to start writing again. It became clear that I wrote better later in the day and for several hours at a time and that once I’d got into the writing mindset, I could merrily write for four, five or six hours. Mr J quickly understood that once I had got into writing mode, I was unlikely to do anything else around the house or homestead that day.

At the end of July, the first draft of the manuscript was completed and sent to the publishers for editing. It was time for a photograph to be taken for the book cover and Jason Ingram was coming to take the photo. For the week or so before his arrival, it was all hands on deck to deadhead and tidy up in the garden.

Despite filming in the garden on a twice weekly basis, it is not a show home of place, it is very much a working site and a constant work in progress and for much of the time, it’s a bit of a mess. As I didn’t know where he might suggest that the photo was taken, I felt I needed to tidy up everywhere. I am so pleased that after looking around he chose my favourite spot – the Cottage Border in the Patrons’ Garden – for me to stand. This border is filled with plants that either came from my parents’ garden or that for one reason or another, remind me of my parents. I’d like to think that Mum and Dad would have been smiling at me posing among the plants in the bed that I created with them in mind.

We had a fun day – Huw was here to support me, to fetch or carry anything that might be needed and to make essential cups of tea and leave them at a safe distance for us to collect without getting too close to each other. Jason took a large number of photos and it took a week or two for the publishers and I to decide exactly which image to use for the cover of Grounded. I am delighted with the image that we have chosen.

So now the hardest part has begun – the editors will read through the manuscript and suggest minor changes, check my spelling and look for any grammatical errors and then work on the layout of the book. I am so pleased that I have a backseat in this process, as I think it’s incredibly difficult to look at something you’ve written with a constructively critical eye. I can hardly wait to see what it will look like when the designer has put all the words and images in place on the pages and it all comes together.

I think I now have the writing bug. As I was finishing the last few sections of Grounded, my mind was already toying with ideas for a second book. This time around I didn’t have the ‘how do I write a synopsis?’ panic, I didn’t feel awkward putting ideas on bits of paper and moving them around a board to see how they look together. This time the process of creating a book idea was less daunting. I will have to wait to see whether the publishers are interested in the new book idea or whether I will need to go back to the drawing board and start again with other ideas. Time will tell.

Grounded is available to pre-order on this website, at Permanent Publications and via online retailers, including Amazon and will be published in February 2021.

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Writing a book
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