Pruning

By Katharine Swan On Saturday, June 02, 2007 At 3:01 PM

I spent several hours this morning and afternoon pruning the lilac bushes that surround our yard. They create a really great privacy screen, especially on the south border of our yard, where the fence is just a low picket fence. However, the bushes on that side are probably thirty years old (at least), and have rarely been pruned, if ever. The result is a tangled mass of overgrown lilacs -- pretty in summer, because they leaf out so thickly, but quite ugly for the rest of the year.

I meant to prune the lilacs last year, but I didn't get around to it early on, except for one lone bush. Naturally, that bush looks the prettiest and bore the most flowers this year. So I'm trying to be a good little gardener this year and take care of our pretty lilacs. The trick is to prune them around the right time -- lilacs need to be pruned right after the flowers bloom, because the plant starts making next years blooms almost right away. Our lilacs finished blooming only a week or two ago, so it's now or never.

As I was pruning (with gusto, I might add -- I was never big on working in the yard, but oddly enough, I enjoyed this), I started thinking about my work. I've been really dragging lately, and it seems I have more ideas for books (fiction and nonfiction) than ever. Since I started freelancing, I've been saying to myself, "When I have more time I'll work on my stories," or other promises along those lines. Of course, I never seem to have enough time, and except for NaNoWriMo last November, I haven't made time, either.

The last couple of days, I've been kind of toying with the idea of cutting back some of my freelance work and devoting more time to writing stories, novels, and nonfiction books. And of course, as an avid reader and writer who thinks in metaphors (don't we all?), I started thinking about how pruning the lilacs was kind of like what I want to do with my business. I'd like to move on to higher-paying work, so that I can spend less time doing it and devote the extra time to other types of writing. I have a few regular clients that I'm not going to give up at this point, even though they pay me at "last year's rates," but I'm not going to take on any more at those levels.

I've also thought about how to work a little fiction- or book-writing into my regular work day. The usual idea -- making myself do the paying work first, and doing the fun stuff if I have time at the end of the day -- isn't going to work for me, because it's just likely to make me start staying up later and later every night. Instead, I think I'm going to give myself a certain block of time every morning to work on my current story or book project. The reason I think this will work better is because I tend to diddle around for an hour or two, blogging or checking up on my favorite blogs to "warm up" before I get to work. My idea is to replace that time with writing the stuff that really gets my fingers flying -- it should be a more effective way to warm up, anyway.

Of course, I don't feel I'm quite ready to start that schedule. Right now I have a few projects that I need to get out pronto -- I've had a hard time being productive since we got back from the honeymoon, and a few things have piled up. Besides, the very first thing I want to do is to revise my NaNo novel, and I want to take Stephen King's advice and read over it all in one day.

Once I get going with the new schedule, I have a few projects in mind. One is an ebook, another a chick lit type of novel, not to mention a handful or so of other ideas in the works. I'll announce my little projects as I start on each.

Wish me luck with my "pruning" and rejuvenation!

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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