The writer is a gardener and cook…

The ablest writer is only a gardener first, and then a cook: his tasks are, carefully to select and cultivate his strongest and most nutritive thoughts; and when they are ripe, to dress them, wholesomely, and yet so that they may have a relish.

~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

I do not believe there is such a thing as a born writer. In the first place, writing is really a skill based on language acquisition and everyone knows how difficult that can be, especially if it isn’t your first language. How many languages you have mastered notwithstanding, people learn to write by (1) being exposed to a lot of writing, (2) learning to put their ideas into written words. Of course, I’m talking about creative writing, but I’d say that extends to any kind of writing. And that’s only learning. There is no such thing as a writer in a vacuum. Writers need a nourishing environment to flourish, and here is where we take the Hare brothers’s metaphor to detail. As a gardener, the writer needs to have a seed to plant: the idea or thought on which to build a composition. Like seeds, they need care and nutrition: they need dirt to grow in, which is akin to our massive bank of knowledge and experience–certainly not acquired in a vacuum–that gives us the words or language to work with. They need water to grow: we need to add to those words, let them expand, add to them, develop them into sentences, paragraphs, chapters, volumes. They need sunshine that allows photosynthesis: we need to provide enhanced language in the form of figurative, picturesque speech, adjectives, adverbs, idioms, and details that create cornucopias of colour in our writing, that make our writing exciting, vivid, alive, colorful. They need pruning and trimming so that only the best fruit and leaves are left: we need to edit, revise, improve, add, and remove, to make sure the writing we have is the best. And then, like many excellent chefs, we need to dress our product and serve it in the most palatable form, whether in verses or prose, in tidbits or tomes. All that care will guarantee a literary banquet that readers the world over are certain to enjoy.

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