Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Proposal To You

I've been thinking how I could write a short book (100p) on my 3 years of gardening. I've been thinking about how gardening books are either about design /theory, practical advice, or narrative reflection. I've been thinking how all three could surely be hybridized (get it?) and juxtaposed against one another in a collection of short, yet linked, chapters--some lyrical, some humorous, some quasi practical, most about how much anal research I've done and how much time spent in my garden. How much obsessing. Late nights. Bad dreams. Et cetera. All the sordid details of my elicit affair (which it is, ask my wife). So below are some proposed chapter titles.

Finding a Big pink rock (I was so excited! Free rock!)
Skinning Me (on a sun burn and my wife's peeling me like an onion)
Is That a Pruner in Your Pocket Or Are You Now Half a Man (mechanical misshaps)
4 showers a day and it still doesn’t rain (in the first two years I took many showers in one day cuz I coldn't stay away from gardening, in July, when it was 95...)
Rabbit Pretzels (nutrional suggestion on what we can do with them)
Gnome on the Range
Monarchical Monarchs
The Garden Center Circuit (I once went to 6 nuseries in one day, and visited some of them twice)
1st Plant to Die, Last Plant to Live
Tree me to your leader
Take the Edge Off
Winter Flicker
Watch Your Step (as in, I want you to come visit my garden, but don't you dare break ANYTHING)
Fountain Planting
Twilight Zone
What’s eating you
The Geese at Sunset
Putting Around (on my neighbor who golfed while watching us eat dinner on the deck)
650 Light Bulbs (on planting crocus in 20 degree weather before Christmas)
To be a gardener or a potter--working with clay
Stick to your ribs
Wet Robin Contest
Right Plant, Wrong Garden
Sneaking Around With a Hussy Perennial (my favorite plants)
Not a drop to drink
Nebraska Faultlines (who knew dirt could make pocket change vanish in a bottomless hole)

What would you want to see in such a book? What "gardening" books most grab you, or is it simply any depending on your mood? What bothers you about "gardening" books? Is voice, tone, and energy the most important aspect of a book? Do you prefer info over story, or how it feels / sounds? Do you like light reading, or heavy, or both at once?


Kyna said...

You've done a ton of anal research for your gardening book?

I didn't realize the two subjects were that closely related O_O


Benjamin Vogt said...

Yes, anal. That's how you spell it. Either way it works--being fastidious or probing for poop, either one works in this context I think. I can't believe I'm going to hit enter after this.

Diana Studer said...

4 showers a day? Grey water to that hot thirsty garden?? Otherwise sounds like a great idea! Run with it ...

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I like the chapter headings, I want to read them now. I like personal experience stories, blatant admissions of failures and descriptions of steps taken to fix the problems. Humor goes a long way for me. I'm not reading gardening books for how-to information anymore, I'm reading to be entertained, enlightened or inspired. As for whether I like my reading light or heavy, that depends on my mood, but short chapters make reading easier.

Gail said...

Go for it Benjamin! Like MMD, I am really taken with your chapter headings: "To be a gardener or a potter~working with clay" jumps out at me. All I need is a kiln and I could make my own pots. I love humorous gardening accounts and good wildflower id books. I am completely turned off by coffee table garden books. gail

Susan in the Pink Hat said...

I'm a social gardening history reader, the rarest of gardening genres, so I'm of no help.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

I think your book sounds worth reading. Essays full of experience, information and insights, humor--but not fluff. And I'm tired of East Coast-based gardening books anyway.

At present, I'm working on a mostly info book about ecological gardening in the Chicago region, the book I wish I'd had when I started.

Country Mouse said...

I want to write a book too, about restoration gardening for people on properties like mine, a few acres maybe, with native flora and fauna, and weeds. I've been wondering too about the balance - information and personal content. Mine would be more information I think but I would love if I could inspire for sure, with personal stories and maybe wry reflections. I don't like books that gush portentously or those that get too cutesy light. I really like How to Keep a Naturalist's Notebook. Crystal clear and practical and also personal and inspiring.

Anna Flowergardengirl said...

Just apply your dry wit and it will be a success. I like the chapter titles--they all made me laugh.

You have a way of seeing the garden and the words at the same time--no other author does that. Gives you a huge advantage on writing a book about the subject--and you are very funny.

Accounts of gardening in your words are like being right there when it happens. You think in the now and somehow make it history at the same time. I love it.

I'm having a hard time explaining how good you are but I've seen it in you since the first blog post I read at The Deep Middle.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Thank you all for your comments! They were very helpful, and let me think more about this potential project in new ways. I've been so busy the last week, esp planning a brand new course for spring term. But I'll start this. And Anna, hey, you just keep going to your heart's content. Keep singing my praises. Go for it. :)

lostlandscape (James) said...

A book of titles would be cool...

I usually go to garden books for a specific purpose, to address a specific need, usually for information. The last more general "gardening book" that stuck with me was Capek's The Gardener's Year, which taught me almost nothing about gardening, but plenty about gardeners. I'm not sure that would be an easy idea to pitch, but it could end up with a rich book with some staying power. Good luck with it--I think this could really be a great short book.