The problem with books

Let me take you on a little tour of my bookshelves.  Just the ones in this room; if we go through the whole house we’ll be here all day.

Here are the work-related ones.  These are not the problem ones.  They aren’t many and they don’t get opened much but are particularly useful for pinching ideas from when I have to deal with a new subject or remind myself of things I used to know.

The problem ones are the knitting ones…

…the sewing ones…

…the historical ones I’ve been using for writing research…

…and the writing and creativity ones.  No, don’t touch the pile; there may be an avalanche and it would take days to dig you out.

If you added up all the time I’ve spent reading these books you’d have a big number of hours.  If you added up all the time I’ve spent actually knitting, sewing, writing – I fear you’d have a much smaller number of hours.

And that’s the problem with books.  They trick you into thinking that reading about doing something is the same as actually doing it.

Digging Deep

Books, books…Books about prehistory, books about gardening, novels, books about writing, books of short shories, books about creativity, knitting books, books about running a business from home… Everywhere in my house there are books.  Discovering a book about creativity and gardening – well, that seemed too good to be true, so when the chance to read and review one came my way, I had to jump at it.  Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots through Gardening by Fran Sorin had me out in the garden relishing getting my hands dirty before I was halfway through.

[Yes, I was given a free Kindle copy to review.  But I would have bought it anyway, and been very glad I did – in fact I may well buy a paper copy too, since there’s something satisfying about holding a physical book, plus I like the cover.  And it’s easier to dip in and out of a paper book.  But I digress.  That’s a whole post in itself and I’ll save it for another day.]

In Digging Deep, Fran gently takes you by the hand and leads you through ‘7 stages of creative awakening’, showing beautifully how gardening can be a truly creative endeavour.  There are plenty of practical tips too.  But it’s not just for gardeners – I found that I was reading a lot of her words and applying them to writing, particularly when she talks about creativity (and gardening) as a journey that just keeps on evolving.

There’s something irresistible and infectious about her love of gardening and the creative process.  I’ve always been a very practical gardener (I grow veg and fruit and don’t think too much about the overal aesthetic), but the book made me realise that it’s my garden, and I can make it beautiful to me.  My favourite thing in my whole garden is a giant dahlia that I put in on a whim and which keeps getting bigger and more pink and exhuberant every year.  Secretly, I wanted the whole garden to have that feeling – and now, thanks to this book, I’m realising that it’s up to me to make sure that it does!

I’ll leave you with the words I enjoyed most from the book: “You cannot simply tap into your creative nature once and then expect to be done with it.  It’s a lifelong process – a continual commitment to being open to possibility, trusting your instincts, experimenting, taking risks, and revising.”  That sounds to me like a great description of the process of developing as a writer, or growing a business, as well as being a gardener!

So, if you feel in need of a dose of creative inspiration – whether you’re a gardener or not – do take a look at Digging Deep.  You too may find yourself itching to get back into your garden, or even back to your writing desk.