After I did the call for authors who craft, J. M. Cartwright contact me and mentioned she loves to garden. Given all the work that goes into creating a garden, I absolutely consider it a craft as much as knitting or woodworking are. I asked J. M. some interview questions and here are her thoughts on life, the universe, and dirt:
K.K. Tell me a little more about what crafts you do. What do you like to make?
J.M.C. My craft is gardening, which is a fairly unforgiving craft, since we depend on sunlight and water and good soil to be successful. Oh, and a boatload of elbow grease. Uh-huh.
K.K. When did you learn to do crafts?
J.M.C. Hah. Gardening is a learn-by-doing exercise in frustration. The gardens continue to evolve because the product is a growing one. Literally. I’ve learned from other gardeners and from a fabulous magazine, Fine Gardening. It helps to see what others are doing, learn from their mistakes and copying their successes – though I do tend to add my own touches to things. I like to take an idea and twist it, bend it, enlarge it, make it my own.
It struck me this season that my gardens are ten years old this year. Whoa. I look around at the beds around my home and I’m amazed. When I moved to this home in 2002, there were some good foundation shrubs and a bounty of beautiful deciduous trees, plus two gorgeous blue spruces. Most of the trees are probably as old as my home (55 years), so the shade, the shape, the impact they have on my home are substantial. My airconditioning doesn’t have to work as hard as the systems in other homes, which is mighty nice. So I’ve been actively gardening with ground gardens and pots for these ten years. Prior to that, it was baskets and pots on decks and balconies. However, I’ve been an indoor plant person for a lot longer than that.
K.K. Have you ever given a craft to a character? How did you go about it? What research did it require?
J.M.C. Absolutely! One of my first books, A Change Of Scenery, had MC Stephen owning and operating a gardening shop in a small city in West Virginia. I used my work experience of dealing with landscapers (designers and installers), plus my own personal experience of being a consumer. Lots of consuming going on there, let me tell you.
K.K. What effect does your writing have on your crafting and vice-versa? Does one fall off when the other is stronger, or do they synergize?
J.M.C. It’s definitely synergy. How can it not be? The more I do it, the better I can write about it. The more I write about it, the more I want to do it – and have my characters enjoy doing it, too.
K.K. What do you dream of making when you have the time or skills?
J.M.C. I’d love to have several acres where I could expand my gardens. Currently I have two distinct gardens, one full shade and one full sun. The other beds are a mix. So having more land to work with would allow me to create individual spaces that speak to the different loves I have for growing things. I’d create some outdoor rooms, which is what these spaces are now called. They bringing seating, tables, hardscape into the garden, allowing people to experience the gardens while performing life activities.
K.K. Where do you get ideas for your crafts?
J.M.C. Magazines, other gardens, my imagination!
K.K. Any other questions you want me to ask that I haven’t yet? 😉
J.M.C. In the last two decades, I’ve noticed a substantial increase in the number of people who garden. A garden can be three or four containers on a balcony or it can be several acres in size. The point I’m making is that more people are recognizing what a difference it makes, whether we live in urban, suburban or rural settings, to have beauty surround us. It softens our hearts, eases our souls, brings out the joy and kindness in us. We need more of that in our lives, not less.
So I say, grow, baby, grow!
A little bit of info…
I’ve been a mix of a dreamer and a doer for pretty much my whole life. The doer part is usually in charge. But I think it’s the dreamer that adds the spice, the panache and the zest.
My stories come from both sides – the doer helps me get the damned things done while the dreamer lets me express my creative, artistic side. My day job of running a small business appreciates both parts and I’ve learned to be more patient, more thoughtful as I go through the day-to-day tasks and interact with people. I’ve learned to appreciate a lot more things about my life since I started seriously writing, and I’ve had an entire world opened up to me from the day I was brave enough to click send and submit my manuscript.