From Arden Bucklin-Sporer
Rachel and I spent about a year writing this book, after a combined 14 years of teaching in gardens and working with public schools. It was surprisingly easy to write, as it consists of experiences and lessons learned. It just bubbled forth. There were all sorts of unanticipated pleasures while writing the book, namely the great collaboration that grew from it, and the way working with someone with a different skill set can make the sum greater than its parts. Rachel is youngish, I am oldish; she is detail oriented, me... not so much. Rachel loves to research, I prefer to... well... sleep. We goaded and prodded each other, spend the first nine months doing a good bit of procrastinating, but three months before the due date, we lurched into full gear and... voila. We hope you like it.
Those last three months were long and exhausting, and as the deadline loomed, my husband warned the kids, "Whatever you do, don't make eye contact with your mother during the month of August."
Here are some lessons learned:
1. When you are taking pictures of kids in the garden, make sure no faces are involved. That way you don't have to get permission forms signed by their parents. Because we work with so many school gardens, we had to go into little hidey-holes to get permissions signed.
2. Save A LOT of energy for book promotion. We thought the hard part was going to be writing the book, after which we would just lounge around awaiting a wave of phone calls, speaking engagements, and reports from our editors that we will be doing a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th run. Little did we know!
3. Get a good editor, which thankfully we did (from Timber), and more than once she saved our bacon.
4. If writing nonfiction (and probably fiction, too), start with a good outline. We spent a good deal of time on our outline and it paid off in the end.
5. "Writing a book" is a great excuse for getting out of stuff. Don't want to take your kids on college tours? Don't want to go on that family vacation to Vegas? Need someone else to walk the dog, water the garden, cook dinner?
6. Choose a great, open-ended topic to write about — like taking kids into the outdoors and showing them things that they have never seen before (worms, earwigs, and mosquito larvae). How is it exactly that school-age kids have never seen this stuff before? That will be the subject of a later blog.
This weekend I went into a bookstore and there was How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers on a shelf, just sitting there. My friend bought it and I couldn't help but ask the clerk, "How many of these have already sold?" knowing that she would reply, "Oh, gosh... we can't seem to keep that book in stock. It's just flying off the shelves." She looked at her monitor, then at me, and smiled sweetly. "This is the first one we've sold."
So spread the word, would you???