• Susanna Beard

Lopping and chopping


A few weeks ago, I bought a pair of ratcheted loppers for the garden. Bear with me, because this is relevant. For those of you who may not know what a pair of ratcheted loppers is, it’s a tool to chop large-ish branches from shrubs and bushes, and the ratchet action gives you more power than a straightforward pair. Much more, in a very exciting, and believe it or not, inspirational way.

Now, before you start thinking I must be a committed gardener, let me say I’m no expert. My garden is a small town garden, looked after over the years only by me, and though I’m proud of it, and it’s grown into a pretty little patch, my understanding of plants and plant care is, to say the least, patchy. The two beds flanking the fences on either side had begun to look like a row of soldiers, as I’d trimmed each shrub into a clump, every one looking similar. They were quite mature and I felt helpless to do much else with them, not being strong enough to dig them out or saw them down to the ground. (You guessed it, strong men in short supply around here!)

Anyway, I asked a friend, a gardener, to give me some advice, and bless her, she went round the whole garden saying “lop this” or “take this old growth out” and “that needs to be in a pot” or “that needs to be in the ground” – and she recommended I buy a pair of ratcheted loppers. Can you see where this is going?

Well. Revelation! I spent one entire sunny weekend lopping and chopping and taking the remains of my bushes up to the recycling centre. My garden is transformed. The bamboo bushes, which I was beginning to hate (huge clumps which shed dry leaves all year round) now look sculptural, their legs revealed, their upper leaves and branches liberated. I can see my smaller bedding plants, I’ve focused on the things I want to keep, and now I feel in control.

All that is to say, I learned a great lesson from this exercise (apart from how therapeutic this kind of weekend can be).

The lesson is: when you need to do something about your life, working or home life, or anything really, you need two things. The wherewithal: the ratcheted loppers, and the support: my friend who gave me her brilliant advice.

I can relate to this so much in my writing life. As a late starter, I set out to give myself the best chance of success. The wherewithal: a brilliant creative writing course (the inspiration) and a love of novels. The support: writers’ groups, other authors, a great agent and a fab mentor (stand up, Sophie Hannah and her Dream Author programme!).

P.S. Obviously this is a bit of a simplification. But I like it. And I have a beautiful and manageable garden to boot.

P.P.S There’s also a rather interesting link between ratcheted loppers and editing, which I may explore next time!

#creativewriting #garden #therapy #novels #author #mentor #inspiration #DreamAuthor #SophieHannah

Susanna Beard - Author
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Susanna Beard, Marlow, UK info@susannabeard.com
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