Friday, May 16, 2014

The Strawberry Patch

I'm in a bit of a muddle. I'm committed to too much writing in too little time. It's moderately crazy anyway, to be doing academic writing in the middle of a mystery.

The first time I bit off more than I can chew was when I was eleven years old. I was an avid 4-Her and a member of the Seekers Not Slackers 4-H club. The highlight of the club year was enrolling in projects. They were astonishingly varied. Every child could find a niche.

So one year, in addition to my usual sewing and food projects, I decided to take gardening, and plant strawberries. It was to be the biggest, gol-durned bestest strawberry patch the county had every seen. I certainly had the first part right. It was enormous. Big enough to stave off any Vitamin C deficiency in the third world.

We noble, conscientious 4-Hers were not allowed to accept help. Preparing the ground was hard enough, but inserting all those precious little plants was torture for even young backs. The worst was yet to come. I had to hand carry buckets of water. Every. Single. Day. It was hot, The metal handles dug ridges in my hands. The plants were bent on dying. I was determined to save them. It was a matter of honor. I was quite bitter that my parents didn't recuse me.

Late summer, the entire club formed a convoy and drove from farm to farm to view the members' projects. We admired all manner of livestock;  calves, pigs, horses, chickens, ducks, dogs, sheep, and goats. Some members showed off their woodworking skills. With luck, those enrolled in cooking had thoughtfully baked a little treat.

At last the club came to our farm and viewed my huge strawberry patch. It was respectable, but nothing special. It looked droopy and some plants had died despite my best efforts. It had ruined my summer, but I didn't have to suffer the humiliation of a failed project.

The whole 4-H experience was highly educational. We learned to give talks, to present ourselves well, to assimilate failures, to be graceful losers and winners, to calculate time and energy, to pull together as a group, and most of all, we learned to think.

Recently I asked a new mystery writer who had a great debut novel if she would be interested doing a guest post on Type M. She calmly said she didn't have the time. She was writing her next book and didn't blog when she was actively writing.

Smart, smart lady. I envy her ability to think, to plan, to calculate time and cost.

I keep forgetting the strawberry patch experience and blithely assume I can do it all. Most of the time I sort of can, but the cost cancels the pride of achievement and the nagging sense that I could have done much, much  better on projects.


Eileen Goudge said...

At least you got strawberry jam out of that 4-H project (or so I imagine). What a wonderful life lesson, though - you're so right about that. I think what did it for me was motherhood, when you find that no matter how much you're doing, there's still loads and loads more to be done. I scratch my head in wonderment now, looking back wondering how I managed to raise 2 kids, and write numerous novels while also promoting said published works with media tours. I get tired now just thinking of it! My marketing/promotion nowadays is almost exclusively online, which I happen to enjoy, so if you you need a guest blogger, I happily volunteer. You can contact me at:

Charlotte Hinger said...

Eileen--thank you for your kind comments, and yes, yes, yes to the guest blogging. I'm claiming you immediately. My next slot for Type M is June 14.

In fact, I've noticed your generous support in Type M. We appreciate your taking the time to comment.

I would love to hear more comments from the followers of Type M about on-line versus personal appearances. I agree with you about raising kids and writing. How did I do it?

Eileen Goudge said...

I'm in! You can email me the deets at I'm happy to talk about anything and everything. I have no secrets (and apparently no shame!)

Charlotte Hinger said...

Eileen, that's wonderful!!!! Thank you so much. We look forward to hearing from you.

Eileen Goudge said...

Is there an email address I should send it to? I'm working on final revisions for my book right now, but will be free in a couple weeks. I'll do a blog post and you can run it whenever.