The Architect and the Gardener

“At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is … curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got that or not.

[Press conference, University of Virginia, May 20, 1957]”
― William Faulkner

quote from here.

My other half and I had a discussion of sorts, about this writing challenge and how a challenge like this is not for every aspiring writer. Call me stupid if you like, I think it provides daily prompts just to get someone to write something every day. He thinks a writer shouldn’t need daily prompts, they should be able to think of at least 10 stories everyday.

Is this right? No seriously, is this true? 😦

Because . . .

I’m stuck at Day 22 which suggests that I should only change my writing position, similar to Day 13 which was to change location, and just write something, anything. My problem is that I can’t generate an idea out of thin air, no matter where I go or what I do. 😦 I mean, I can tell you a story with specific things in it. 😥 I can mix up a little of my Jamaican culture in there too :”( . . . sniff), does that mean I’m a bad a writer? . . .

But then, I thought . . . there are different levels of creativity, right? I mean, I see art in shipping palettes (which you will find out about, later) and old laps (also, later), I created my headboard. I may not be able to think of 10 stories in a day, but not every writer is the same. Not every writer writes the same, thinks the same, creates the same.

Then I found this . . .

“I often said that writers are of two types.

There is the architect, which is one type. The architect, as if designing a building, lays out the entire novel at a time. He knows how many rooms there will be or what a roof will be made of or how high it will be, or where the plumbing will run and where the electrical outlets will be in its room. All that before he drives the first nail. Everything is there in the blueprint.And then there’s the gardener who digs the hole in the ground, puts in the seed and waters it with his blood and sees what comes up. The gardener knows certain things. He’s not completely ignorant. He knows whether he planted an oak tree, or corn, or a cauliflower. He has some idea of the shape but a lot of it depends on the wind and the weather and how much blood he gives it and so forth.

No one is purely an architect or a gardener in terms of a writer, but many writers tend to one side or the other. I’m very much more a gardener.” 
― George R.R. Martin

quote from here.

And I think in that moment George R.R. described Him and me, Him being the architect, and me, the gardener, of sorts. And then I thought, if George R.R. is a gardener and is writing that monster of a series . . . . . . . . . . . . . .gasp . . . . . . . . . .  it gives me hope 🙂

Which brings me back to Mr. Faulkner’s quote up top, I felt he was talking to me directly. Telling me that, yes, I do need the challenge, the daily prompts, to train my writing, and to teach me persistence and get me into the habit of writing everyday. Yes, not every writer will benefit from this. Him, he wrote a story the other without any prompt, suggestion or otherwise. And it was interesting, and amazing that he could do that . . . so maybe the writing challenge was not for him, being an architect and all. I will post his story in a while because it really was good.

But I need the challenge and boy has it been challenging.

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by 🙂




  1. Writing can make itself so complicated but it’s a reflection of our complicated natures. You’ll write a million words today and have writer’s block for 2 months straight afterwards. I’m a gardener, no doubt but I’ve realised that if you’re going to write a novel where things are progressively revealed and it’s going to have exquisite parallel structure then there has to be a plan. I cheat though, by writing spontaneously, no plan then when I have tons and tons of prose I give it structure and add things as needed.


    • Thanks Clyde for your comment, I really appreciate it!

      I completely agree with you, that’s why I love George R.R. quote. We are never truly one type of writer, its a matter of finding which process works best for you. Sometimes, I find that I’ll outline the different stages of a story before I write, but that’s a very rare occurrence :/


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