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The Garden
by Sonja Herbert

It was my turn to read at our weekly writers’ meeting.

I sighed.

“I didn’t bring much,” I said. “I didn’t feel like writing this last week. All I’m getting is rejections for my novel. Maybe it’s not even worth my time to write.”

Mary looked up from her folder. ”Why don’t you write some smaller pieces? If they get printed, they will give you some writing credits and will make it easier to find an agent.”

Judging from her bright smile, she probably had another piece accepted this last week. I felt even more depressed. “I don’t know how to do that. All I’ve ever done is write on my novel.”

“You ought to try it. It won’t take very long to put together a small piece and send it off. That will give you something to do while you wait for your novel to get accepted. And you’ll feel better about writing if you get published.”

Maybe she’s right, I thought. But, for me it seemed impossible to come up with ideas for something short. I decided I’d try the Internet. Maybe I’d find something to help me come up with some ideas.

When I was home again, I surfed the Internet for anything about writing articles. Eventually I was on a site called, “Funds for Writers.”

Interesting, I thought. I decided to sign up for their free weekly emails.

The next week their small markets newsletter arrived in my email, and I came across something even more interesting. A magazine called Greenprints was looking for essays about gardening. I scrutinized the info, then clicked on the link. Yes. It said they weren’t interested in technical articles about gardening, just personal essays.

I sat back and closed my eyes. Was it already fifteen years ago that I had been working in my large garden, my five small children around me? I thought about the happy times I had as a young mother.

I loved that garden, the deep brown dirt with nary a rock in it, and the flood of bright green peas in late spring, with their lacy white blossoms.

I can write about that, I thought. All I have to do is remember how my life was then. I folded my hands in my lap and thought back. In my mind I relived the pleasure with which I tended my garden, making the plants grow as readily as, tending my children, I helped them grow.

Liesel had been a baby then, but already strong-willed. And Daniel, with his curly hair and brown eyes, was such a serious little boy. I smiled as I remembered the oldest, twelve-year-old Dennis, helping the baby and her three-year-old sister open the peas and eat them, right out there in the garden.

As my children grew up strong and beautiful, my garden brought us fresh peas year after year.

I returned to the present and opened my eyes. I was ready to write.

I opened a new page on the computer and put down my memories of growing peas and children. Before I knew it, I had a finished essay. It even read reasonably well.

The next week I took the essay to my writers’ group. My fellow writers gave me some hints on how to polish the story and focus it, to make it tighter.

“This is very good,” Mary said. This time, her smile was for me.

A week later I sent it off by snail mail, as the editor requested.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, when, just three weeks later, I got an acceptance in the mail, and an offer for $150.00, quite a bit more money than I had expected.

It was that easy! All I had to do was remember one of the most peaceful and fulfilling times of my life.

I’ve had many other stories and articles accepted since, but none of them was as much fun to write as my very first one. And I even got paid for it!

© Copyright 2010, Sonja Herbert

Sonja Herbert is the author of many award-winning stories. Her novel, Tightrope!, about her mother hiding in a circus during the Holocaust, won the distinguished Eaton Literary Award for best book manuscript. Originally a native of Germany, she now lives in Utah. Check out her website, germanwriter.com.

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