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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Emily on May 30, 2012
"A piece I took a while to write, though barely more than an hour. Rough, obviously, as I didn't stop to edit or alter. I wanted to take a different route with this piece than you might generally expect, though I doubt I've created any expectations in regards to my own writing on this site just yet. I wanted it to be honest and informative, and perhaps a little mysterious. I can see flaws and where it needs to be edited, but for the most part I'm happy with how it turned out as a first draft. The ending is a bit weak in my eyes, but that may just be normal conjecture on the subject. I encourage all critiques and I hope to bring a little bit of happiness or a smidgen of pleasure to at least one person's day."

A Garden All Your Own

If you talk to a gardener, chances are they're under the misconception that there are only certain items you can grow and that there is only a certain way you can do things. Your needed ingredients will, no doubt, consist of a seed for some plant-life of sorts, soil appropriate for the needs of the specific organism, a plot within the right light settings for the plant to grow, and the appropriate foodstuffs and amounts of water to encourage the healthiest possible results. The rules are obvious here -- you follow the instructions to get the desired results and hopefully the actual results don't deviate from what's expected. However, these rules aren't necessarily true, and these gardeners are functioning under false pretenses. A true gardener knows better.

Gardens are the places in our life where we can hide, relax, find peace and luxury in the great outdoors (or indoors, depending on your particular style). The assumption that only items of organic heritage can be grown, or that only certain steps apply is one most would never think to second-guess. I would like to tell you otherwise.

The premise behind the steps of growing plants in your garden is effectively the overall premise for any form of gardening. For anything to grow properly, it must begin in an environment suitable to its nature and should be kept in this environment -- maintained to continually stay at the optimal conditions for growth. The items you are growing also require nourishment in multiple forms -- through fluid and more solid means, much as you would expect for any living creature (though it applies to those of non-organic origins as well). Following these, every item must be given the appropriate amount of light in which to shine. If smothered in light, the results are likely to be poor and withered just as greatly as if you deprive your garden of the light it needs to grow. Finally, you need a seed -- whether a memory, a piece of fabric, or an actual piece of plant-life, any item holding the potential to unlock a greater form will suffice. All of these things must be kept in mind when forming your garden, and I hope that despite their undeniably bizarre nature, you will take them to heart.

For me, various methods seem to have different levels of success depending on what it is in particular I am attempting to grow, but as I said previously, the premise is always the same. I hope to introduce to you the same concepts in other ways to give an idea of how you, too, can accomplish your own successful "Garden of Requirement", if you will.

Firstly, I have discovered that your seed must be unique to you. The greater your connection with the seed, the better your results are likely to be. The lesser the connection, the worse. It is vital in the seed-picking process that you remember that negative connections can be just as strong as positive connections. However, I'd also encourage you to keep in mind that your outcomes are likely to reflect whatever connection you've used. For example:

Jane absolutely loves skiing. It's a passion she couldn't live without, and one she's been persuing since she could balance herself on a set of skis. In contrast, Jane finds reading to be absolutely repugnant and will avoid it at all costs. Jane has two items she could use for her garden -- a piece of her first ski, and a page from the first book her schools ever required her to read. Assuming these items are of roughly equivalent strength in connection, their results would be close in strength as well. For example -- if Jane wished to create an ice sculpture through her garden for use at a friend's wedding and she chose to use the piece of her first ski to do so, the chances are the ice sculpture would grow to be as beautiful as she desired, if not moreso. In constrast, if Jane used the page of the book from her first reading assignment, the ice sculpture grown would likely be some grotesque form -- repugnant to all who behold it.

Applying this concept to your own life should hopefully be easy enough. Just keep in mind that the good will create good and the bad will create bad. The more good you pour into your garden, the more good will come of it (and vice-versa). I, personally, do not encourage the use of negative seeds, surroundings, nutrition, or light sources as you can never be certain what the outcome will be. It's a surprise in the least pleasant of ways. Personally, I prefer to use a lock of my partner's hair, a seed from a melon of any sort, pages from now-retired children's books (though I don't condone the destruction of still-functioning books by any means), or even just singular thoughts running through my head (sometimes these can be the most effective). To me these items represent love, inspiration, color, flavor, life. They are the beginnings to everything good and wholesome, and I want to take those aspects and pass those on to my garden's contents. This same concept works with all steps of your garden.

For the environment, I try to choose a home I know will provide steady care and affection along with nourishment and other assorted beneficial aspects (these vary from person-to-person and garden-to-garden, so unfortunately that's more of a guesswork aspect). Most often, I like to use a well-loved room in my home, a bookshelf that's been in use since I was young, or the recesses of my imagination, where thoughts are left to grow and bloom into beautiful ideas. For the use of actual plant-based seeds, I tend to find plots in parks or playgrounds where memories were fostered and cared for. However, once chosen to host a garden, these environments must be kept clean of clutter, opposing energy, illness, insecurity, and any other parts of life that might bring about failure in this particular endeavor. You have to remain strong, till the "soil", and keep everything in order for affairs to be set just right.

When asked about foodstuffs for my gardens, I often have to resort to more vague answers, as nutrition varies of every item you might wish to grow. For example, Jane's ice sculpture might need daily ice-watering and perhaps birdsong if the desired image was one of a swan or lark. You might also take pictures of ideas or descriptions of what you'd like to be and find unique ways of mixing them in with the environment. In this instance, Jane may have placed the piece of ski in an icebox. If this were so, she could then laminate the image/description, spray it lightly with water, and then also add it to the icebox. In another example, you might add ink to a pile of blank pages on your bookshelf if you're looking to foster the growth of a novel. A sculpture of a wolf nearby might influence the contents to reflect the subject as either a menial character or perhaps the protagonist, depending on the connection between yourself and the sculpture. Emotion is highly important in the creation of any garden

Following nutrition, there's always the question of light. In this scenario, it's logical to apply the concept of sitting the same piece of film under the light for too long. When this occurs, the subject burns. However, if you don't expose the film to enough light, you won't see the picture. Again, this process is up to interpretation.

In my experience as a gardener, I've often found that mood lighting works best for acquiring desired outcomes. Perhaps I'm working on nurturing that aforementioned novel and I want to give it a more philosophical or romantic tone. In this case, I would choose the soft lighting of a candle-lit lantern or a gas lamp just to the side of the bookshelf. Allowing enough light to hit your environment is necessary, but you don't want to overpower the atmosphere, either. For Jane's sculpture, if she were desiring diamond-like crystals and sparkling clarity from the piece, she might wish to place a diamond within the icebox, or otherwise expose the light-box to a crystalline chandelier for an allotted amount of time per day, hour, etc. Altering which angle is most affected could also encourage more clarity and reflection from a specific part than from another.

Moving along with our aforementioned scenarios, I would also mention that atmosphere and encouragement are something any gardener would remind you of even in the growth of simple plants. Some would say talking to the plant encourages it to grow quicker, stronger, healthier, and better. Others would claim that music is the key to this item. Perhaps, they are both right.

In regards to the novel growing on the shelf, I might suggest narrating aloud to the pages. Give the book an imprint of your mind, of your ideas. Or, otherwise, read from an excerpt of a book you'd like to read from the computer (not that I condone copying information in any way, shape, or form). If you want a classic background to the book, perhaps play Debussy in soft lulls while you read/speak.

In contrast, for Jane, the atmosphere might need to be incredibly different. Perhaps your friend is a ballet dancer -- you might choose to play ballet ballads in the background, such as the Nutcracker Suite, to encourage a ballerina-like outcome. Considering her friend is getting married, perhaps Jane adds in a wedding march or romantic songs to her playlist. Maybe Jane talks about her friend and how much she loves her, how beautiful she looks. A comparison to a peacock in beauty might be made, or to a swan in elegance. Maybe Jane throws in an anecdote of her friend as a child, or a child's laugh is hear from through the window as she speaks. As a result of all aforementioned steps, perhaps Jane fosters the growth of a magnificent ice sculpture; a child ballerina in feathered garb pirouettes in perfect form, her fingers outstretched as if she's trying to reach your hand. Perhaps the sculpture's dress has a train or decor reminiscent of a wedding? Or maybe the girl is wearing a tiara or a diamond ring, both of which sparkle in the afternoon light while the dress remains a frosted color, similar to the darker area of the icebox in which it rested.

For me, the steps are closer to those of the novel oftenmost times, though usually in regards to thought and love. I have grown a home for myself out of fragmented pieces of my past, and I hope to encourage the growth of a future. My garden is one of quills and inkwells, of plush furniture and blankets in which you might burrow. I grow foods and literature, bookshelves and lamps. I encourage the growth of musical instruments and gaming consoles, and everything imaginable. And, when something is no longer of use in its current form, I feed my garden its past to strengthen its future. My garden is me.

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