Plant the Tree.

sliced_avocado

I love avocados.

When we first bought our house in the Central Valley of California, we considered planting an avocado tree in our backyard. The idea of it was so exciting. Can you imagine being able to walk into your backyard and pick a fresh avocado off your very own tree? Hmmm, what do I feel like eating for lunch today? Whatever it is, it will taste better with an avocado…an avocado from that tree that I can see out my kitchen window! A BLT with avocado. A caprese salad with avocado. Endless amounts of fresh guacamole! A dream come true.

Not really being a gardener type, I began to ask around about avocado trees. Are they easy to plant and take care of? Will they do well in our summer heat? Are they expensive? And in the midst of my research, a friend of mine said to me, “Well, you can plant a tree, but it will probably be seven years or more before it produces an avocado you can actually eat.” Wait…what? Seven years? A little more research confirmed that yes, indeed, it would probably take that long. Right then and there, my avocado tree dream died. In my mind, there was no way we would even still be in this house in seven years. SEVEN YEARS! Seven years seemed like an eternity, and while I wanted avocados, I wasn’t in the business of working for seven years to get them.

I really, really, liked the idea of having avocados in my backyard. And while the idea of them magically appearing there was somewhat appealing, I knew that there would be SOME work involved. But it wasn’t a process I was interested in starting if I couldn’t see the finish line in the distance. I needed to know that I was going to get that guacamole sometime before my son (who was then 2) had facial hair. So, we did not plant an avocado tree.

And you know what happened? Three more kids and TWELVE years later, we still live in the same house. Inconceivable! I often stare out into the spot in our yard where the tree might have gone, and think, “If only we had planted that avocado tree!” My son IS beginning to grow facial hair, and I still have to hop in the car and drive to the store every time I feel like that amazing guacamole because I NEVER PLANTED THAT TREE!

And for me, that avocado tree has become a bit of parable for my writing journey.

None of us can know for certain how long it will take to see the fruit of our publication pursuits. But for most of us, the process will be an avocado-tree-like wait. It will take YEARS of work. YEARS of growth. YEARS of patience. But what the avocado tree teaches me is that I cannot allow myself to get discouraged before I even start. This is how my internal monologue goes:

Do you know how many people want to write novels?

Plant the tree.

Getting the words on the page is only the beginning.

Plant the tree.

That daily word count is not nearly enough.

Plant the tree.

You could work on it for years and never get published!

Plant the tree.

There’s not much we can know for sure when it comes to the publishing industry. We could get an amazing email or phone call tomorrow making all of our dreams come true. Or, we could write and submit forever and never see the results we are hoping for.

But what we do know for sure is that if we don’t plant the tree, there will be no avocados.

So, don’t stare out the window wishing you had planted that tree.

PLANT THE TREE!

And then head back inside and enjoy some fresh guacamole.

14 thoughts on “Plant the Tree.

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  1. I had guacamole for the first time in my life just last year. Never thought I’d like but…I loved it! And just like trying new foods, writers need to go outside their comfort zones and at least try. You’ll get nowhere if you don’t try.

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  2. I love this! The first thing I say to anyone who is thinking about writing a book is DO IT NOW! I never dreamed it could take this long to get published. There is so much to learn, so many people to meet, plus discouragements and fun along the way. It is a much longer journey than I ever thought, but I persist! Thanks!

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    1. I love this. I tell people something similar…there’s never going to be a perfect time to write a book. Life keeps moving along, and you have to figure out how to make it happen if you really want it.

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  3. Hi Amy,
    It’s never to late – you can still plant an avocado tree.
    Great post – the process of writing and seeing a manuscript make its way to publication can easily take the same amount of time as an avocado tree producing fruit.

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  4. Yep – where’s that wisteria arbor that I was counting on? I found out how long it would take to grow. Also – requires heavy duty (think galvanized pipes) to support the heavy weight of the full-size branches. New writers need to erect those solid pipes too.

    I was told that if I wanted a house with a wisteria arbor, BUY a house with a wisteria arbor. Hmpf. Someone, sometime, somewhere believed and planted it. And it thrived. 🙂

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  5. Hi Amy – what a great post. It’s true, writing is like planting trees – it takes awhile, but while you’re working on it you can be hopeful and dream. I hope you are planning to plant that avocado tree now. Because you might still be at your house in seven years. And maybe you’ll be able to enjoy the fresh avocados with your children. Or grandchildren. I do not know much about avocado trees, but we planted blueberry bushes seven years ago. My bushes are now about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide and we were able to eat blueberries last year, although we have to cover them with netting if we want to eat the fruit (birds love berries). Nevertheless I look at them and dream about when they will reach their 8 foot tall, 8 foot wide size, and have so many berries that the birds and my family and my friends and neighbors can all eat some. (Just like looking at my manuscripts and thinking, maybe someday lots of children will read this!)

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