My husband likes weeding with gloves on which definitely has its advantages. It keeps dirt from getting stuck under his fingernails and protects his skin against nettles, thorns, and other prickly bits of nature. It’s also an effective safeguard against the wayward poison ivy which occasionally creeps into our flower garden from the wild weed patch next door.
I, however, prefer weeding barehanded. Scandalous, I know. To me, gloves are a hindrance. When I have them on, I can’t properly feel the roots of those pesky weeds. And when I have gloves on, one of two terrible things happens: 1) I end up extracting only the top portion of some weedy nuisance, thus encouraging future weedy growth, or 2) my hands are so clumsy that I inadvertently pull up more than just weeds! Either way, my garden suffers.
But, weeds beware, without gloves I’m going to get you! And yes it’s dirty My nails get cruddy and the swirls and curves of my finger prints really stand out in muddy relief, but it also feels good. Barehanded, I feel a connection to the rich soil beneath my garden. And it’s easy to identify the roots of each weed and to extract them completely. If my garden could speak, I think it would thank me, because when I weed barehanded the garden looks better. Much better.
My writing, too, needs weeding and it’s done best without gloves on. Barehanded revising is messy, but if you are willing to dig in to your garden of words – mud, worms and all – and if you are willing to get to the root of the weedy bits, even if it means getting cruddy in the process, your story will flourish. Indeed, if your story could speak, I am quite convinced, that like my garden, it would thank you.
Don’t be afraid to take off those writerly gloves of inhibition and really dig in to the messy process of revising! And may your gardens, er stories, flourish!
Note: Over the summer, I have been sharing some of my favorite analogies from years past as I stockpile new ones for the fall and beyond. This oldie but goodie was first published in May 2015. I was reminded of it this weekend as I found myself weeding both in my garden and on my laptop. The laptop story project is, I think, finally weed-free. Not so much the garden.