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The pen is mightier than the sward

Updated: May 10

Sward: Literary definition - an expanse of short grass. Farming definition -

the upper layer of soil, especially when covered with grass.


There is a battle going on in my home at the moment. Dig and mow or get creative. It is very easy to see with the eye, what physical labour is required for the task of reducing a lawn. Re-establish borders. Dig up beds. Mow, trim, and lay weed suppressant.


At the desk, whether keyboard or pen in hand, it can be harder to make a start or continue where one left off. In gardening, the physicality of pressing one's foot down on the spade edge and heaving damp earth from the ground, the ache in the shoulders and back of the thighs lets one know that work is done; the labour has an observable effect. A sense of achievement is often easier to recognise when physical change has taken place.


Writing doesn't always let us do this. We may work for days, weeks, or months on an idea, and not see what is taking shape. Yes, there are words on the pages, but hitting the redraft point can feel a lot like doing homework.


I am redrafting a piece at the moment. Plus, I have the outline of another novella. The second one has taken some crude form in a notebook. The first has no ending but holds promise. The redrafting is going extremely slowly. I read the same chapters day after day. I feel like I am becoming word-blind. So the garden calls. Once I get physical, the brain juices start to flow. The call of the notebook and pen has me tugging off my wet boots and settling into the comfortable sound of turning pages and my pen laying down lines of a story.


The redraft will take time. I know this. I must accept it as I must accept that the seeds I planted in the new border will not appear until early summer.


E. V Faulkner



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