A Gathering of Blooms
Bouquets from the Books
Of course a publisher hopes that people will love the books it has believed in, and will offer spontaneous praise. When this takes place, it's like bouquets given to performers onstage at the end of a performance. As if the gratitude of the receivers, the audience, overflows and must be expressed beyond bringing the hands together in a public clapping sound.
So we have received some bouquets in the form of reader praise and media attention. If you're interested, you can enjoy those bouquets here:
READER PRAISE MEDIA APPRECIATION
But what else is a bouquet? It's a gathering of blooms from the ripened flowers, gifts for the senses that celebrate the fullness of life. Blossoms opened to the sun, stems greenly, erectly supporting; scents released into the atmosphere that a grateful nose will come closer to.
This gathering of ripened blessings, this evidence of life's aim towards flowering, this beauty so magnificent yet unself-conscious -- these are bouquets that we might open to giving ourselves.
And so in the spirit of honoring ourselves by coming close to beauty, coming close to the flowering of something longed for, here is a bouquet of quotes from some of our Rose Press books that we hope will encourage your own flowering.
It's good to stop and smell the roses, any time we can remember.
This is such a time.
Bouquets from Rose Press Books
Blooms and fronds of excerpts gathered from the books
to intrigue you and delight you
The following bouquet
is from STARTING YOUR BOOK, by Naomi Rose
in the Rose Press "Creative Process" series
(Excerpted from Chapter 2, "Preparing the Ground")
I grew up in a very urban city, with more concrete than living land, and knew nothing about gardening other than watching my mother try to keep a few decorative houseplants going. By the time of my adolescence, my relationship to the soil and the natural world was more literary than intimate. I did not instinctively know the feel of earth in my hands or under my feet. I did not know that soils could differ, one from another (clay, sandy, arable), or what it took to bring about a soil in which plant life might thrive.
One time I almost wept, reading how farmers could simply raise a finger into the air and know which way the wind was blowing, and what that meant for the coming weather and their crops. That it was even possible for a human being be so in touch with the natural world as to know such things directly, to be in conversation with the wind, opened up in me a deep, hidden, and not altogether hopeful longing that somehow such a natural relationship to life might come to be mine.
As an adult, I have lived in a city all my life, except for one period in my early twenties where I did live in the country. But even though I never got to plant apple trees, dig ripe, thorny artichokes from the ground, or fall asleep serenaded by the music of crickets and wake to the sound of roosters announcing the sun, still I have found my way back to the natural world even in the midst of my urban life. Or perhaps I have allowed it to find me.
When I speak of “preparing the ground,” it’s of course your inner ground I’m alluding to. A place inside you that is porous, open, arable, where your desires can rise to consciousness and invite your explorations. Where they can grow, and come to please and perhaps even astonish you with their fruitfulness, wisdom, and beauty, their goodness. Where what grows in you is so nutritious that you’d naturally want to share its abundant fruits with others for their benefit as well as the sheer joy of offering what you’ve grown.
Writing a book is not, of course, the only way to work your inner ground to support the emergence of something that you love and marvel at, perhaps even long for. But it is one way. And if you feel called to write a book, then the analogy of preparing the ground can provide comprehension, texture, and ballast for thoughts that might otherwise swirl around ungraspably, for deep desires that might otherwise have a place to root and roost.
[Here follows (not shown) a description of what it was like to clear out my long-ignored tiny front yard, which had been filled with inherited and unwanted potted plants and had two side-by-side areas of dirt, one which I'd once dug and tilled and planted, and one that had never known this kind of treatment. . . .]
It felt grand to have done this. Simple. Muscular. Working with what was there, importing (for the moment) nothing. My satisfaction was triumphant, exuberant—not my usual way of starting the day. Not only because of the exercise and the early morning light, and anticipating a garden coming out of what had been, to that point, neglect. But also because the connections to my inner life had made themselves known to me. It was the resonance, the layers of meaningfulness. That was the source of my joy. Yes, my focus was on clearing the yard, but simultaneously I was clearing out some cultivatable places within myself, which for too long had gone unattended. This inner resonance was the deeper undergird of my sense of accomplishment.
I did not necessarily know what I was clearing my inner land for, any more than I knew at this point what I was clearing the outer land for. I did not know what would show up as plantings and flowerings. But this act of clearing was essential, I knew, in order to live a life based in my real nature. Being real (whatever that might look like) had always been my deep longing, even if I had often let the equivalent of sprawling inherited potted jade plants crowd out the fledgling laurel tree.
For the entire rest of the day, I felt full of strength and shining, full of promise and unearned light. And as if they were time-capsule gifts, like a flavorful meal whose taste lingers at the edge of the tongue for hours after, insights came to me that wove together the literal experience of preparing the ground with the preparing yourself for writing your book.
Soil that has once been cultivated (even long ago, even if you don’t recall having done it) holds the imprint of this care. It is more arable than soil where you have never broken ground.
Weeds and other unwanted sproutings can grow in cultivated soil as well as neglected soil. When you can distinguish an unwanted from a wanted sprouting, you have the choice to clear the ground to make room for something you do want. Actual weeds are easy to see and deal with: just put on your gardening gloves, take out your spade, and dig them out by their grasping roots. Internal weeds may be harder to distinguish; familiarity may obscure the fact that they are squatting on your beautiful potentials. (Examples: “What I have to say isn’t all that important,” “Maybe I’m not up to it, after all,” “What makes me think I have anything new and unique to contribute?” and so on.) Once you recognize and remove the weeds, the cleared ground that becomes visible is ripe for what you want to seed there.
You can often use what you’ve already got, just in new, more desirable configurations. Stones that litter a cluttered yard can be purposefully brought together to form a border. Seemingly disconnected paragraphs and vignettes can be brought together with connective headings and bridging text.
Clearing out and dreaming into even one little corner of a larger area can encourage you enough to keep going with the rest. While you can scope everything out beforehand, make architectural drawings and outlines, and have a mental map in place before you start executing any of the hands-on work, you don’t have to go about it that way. You can make one small area just as you like it, given what’s available to you at the time. Then, because this beautified area encourages you and inspires you, it becomes an anchor, magnetizing other things that could fit with the anchor to come to your awareness. Then you can move these things around in relation to it. A painter might begin a canvas with a tree all in green; then, whatever else gets added is composed in relation to that. This creative process doesn’t demand an architectural plan (unless you want one); it only asks that you start with something you love, and see what else fits well with that. Then, a positive contagion takes place. And you are here—present, listening, willingly engaged—for all of it.
Copyright © 2022 by Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.
Deep reads for deepening readers.
Rose Press books. A publishing house for your inner garden.