Hi Diddle Dee Dee, A Writer's Life For Me? *

I've been tagged by Soilman at er, Soilman with a writing meme. I'm rather flattered as he says he's tagged pro or semi-pro writers and seeing I earn s*d all from writing, even semi-pro's a pretty good compliment in my view** :)

OK, let's see...

Which words do you use too much in your writing?
  • So - I haven't really got the hang of joining words yet - says she quoting the kind of thing her primary school teacher used to say ;)
  • Well - Well, I try and write like I'm having a conversation, so (!) that one tends to creep in here rather a lot.
  • Here - tends to creep in here rather a lot
  • I also have a dreadful habit of repeating almost exactly the same phrase in the next sentence: luckily, self-editing usually weeds them out ;)
  • Add my most over-used word or phrase of your choice: I'm sure there's plenty I've either forgotten about or haven't spotted yet. Feel free to tell me in the Comments below...
Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?

Lovely, stunning and delightful. Trouble is, it's rather difficult not to use them when you're talking about rather lovely gardens, or looking at stunning scenery. I'm just as guilty as anyone else and the results are rather less than delightful.

What’s your favourite piece of writing by you?

The next one.

What blog post do you wish you’d written?

I can't single anything out in particular as I see at least one post of that ilk every day. There's a very important piece I'm glad I haven't written, because it'd mean I'd had some really bad experiences. It's Carrie's piece on Ecotherapy. I do understand what she's talking about though, as gardening and having an allotment have also pulled me through some pretty bad times.

Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn’t written?

My first blog post is cringingly awful and entirely unoriginal. Luckily no-one was reading my stuff for aaaaages, which is probably just as well.

How has your writing made a difference?

Blogging can be a bit navel gazing at times, so I was glad to do something a bit different last year with my Open Garden to raise funds for WaterAid. The money raised - including Gift Aid - was over £1,300 (£2,000 USD), which is enough to give an entire village in Africa a clean, safe supply of water for ever. As for my everyday stuff, who knows?

Name three favourite words...

Grumplebum, chucklesome and holiday

…And three words you’re not so keen on

This week they're wasp and potato blight.

Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?

Mentor? No, but I'd like one - any offers? Role Model? I've always had a strong sense of being me ever since I can remember, so that's who I strive to be in my writing. Inspiration? There's loads, but I have to single out The Bath Crafting Cranny as it was reading her blog nearly two years ago which made me want have a go. I also have to mention Christopher Lloyd as it was his writing for The Guardian which got me into gardening in the first place, never mind writing about it.

What’s your writing ambition?

I didn't have one for ages as I just enjoyed the process of blogging. That changed towards the end of last year when I went on a creative writing course. The course itself was pants, but it did show me I'd like to actually get paid for writing something one day. In the meantime, I'll just keep practising until I get it right, which could take a wee while.

Plug alert! List any work you would like to tell your readers about:

I've got another guest post for The Guardian Gardening Blog coming up soon - possibly next week - which is looking at garden visits, how they're becoming a bit too successful for their own good and what could be done about it. I'm also very excited about getting stuck into my new Incredible Edibles strand and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's contributions for Out on the Streets, my quarterly look at public planting which kicks off again next month.

Now it's tag-time. I'm not entirely sure how many it should be and secretly there are some others I'd like to add to my list, but I'm too shy to ask you all and 4 people seems to be the norm anyway. Also, as with any tagging memes I take part in, there's absolutely no obligation for my nominees to take part, or perhaps someone not nominated might like what they see and answer the questions themselves anyway. If you do take part, please let me know as I'm fascinated to see your answers. The names pulled out of my virtual hat are:

Constant Gardener

* = with apologies to the makers of Pinocchio (1940)
** = I'm probably just making up the numbers though


  1. A most thoughful and enjoyable post VP. I am very aware that 'lovely. stunning and delightful' are three words that I overuse and am constantly wracking my brain to think of alternatives :)

  2. Anna - we're in extremely good company - all the gardening magazines do it all the time.

  3. Hmm Interesting post. Best I just carry on blogging and enjoying reading/seeing more talented blogs I might learn something.

  4. Usually I bypass reading these meme thingys (and I've only ever written one which took an absolute age) but that's a really interesting read VP! (goodness, sounds a bit patronising, not mean to be...).

    It's nice to get to know others in a different way. Thank you.

  5. Creative writing courses are very hit and miss. I think the best are with the Arvon Foundation (or it's Welsh equivalent Ty Newydd - which happens to have a magnificent garden and is based in the last home of Lloyd George)- they are quite expensive but you get what you pay for.

    I know the director and staff at Ty Newydd and have been trying to persuade them to run a course aimed at bloggers.

  6. Good post. I would include stunning in the list of over used words and as for sustainable well you know my feelings about that one!

  7. Thank you VP. That really made me emotional; I hope it was a worthwhile post. x

  8. VP: Great read,thanks for doing it.
    I always think those wretched 'creative writing' courses are misnamed. What folks really need is the 'gainful writing' course. A different matter entirely!

  9. Interesting to read about your thoughts on writing VP. I am another who started gardening seriously as part of reading Christopher Lloyd! Best of luck with your writing.

  10. Hi, VP, thanks for the tag. My answers are now posted - hope you enjoy them.

  11. Hello VP - I'm having a reduced-blog endurance test for the summer but will come back in the autumn. Hope the delay is tantalising rather than annoying. Thanks for putting me on your list.


    P.S. I can't guarantee to do it right.

    P.P.S. I'm trying to undergo an exclamation mark fast too.

    P.P.P.S. But still like P.S.s

    (And brackets.)

  12. Grumplebum! What a good word. Have to start using that....

  13. Joanne - that's exactly the approach I'm taking :)

    Deb - glad you enjoyed it. I quite enjoy memes as it allows things to be said which aren't normally. It's the passalong bit I find hard. Perhaps I'll just stop the passalong in future, but I did want to nominate in this instance because I'm fascinated by the writing process and how others approach it

    Mark - I'm seriously tempted to go on one of the Arvon courses. There was one earlier this year with Anna Pavord as one of the tutors, which would have been wonderful. Sadly it clashed with something else. Thanks for the info about Ty Newydd - if you get them to do a course for bloggers let me know!

    PG - I'm resisting using that word, simply because I know how you and James will react to it ;)

    Carrie - no need to be emotional, it was a piece that needed to be mentioned. Have a great holiday :)

    Soilman - you're welcome and thanks for the nomination - I enjoyed doing it. I'm wondering whether a course aimed at freelancing is closer to the kind of thing you have in mind? However, I suspect a lot of it can't be taught because it's down to things like luck and being in the right place at the right time...

    Elizabethm - thank you. I read you and some of your colleagues at Purplecoo to get an insight into good writing :)

    Victoria - you were very good, as always :)

    Esther - I was expecting that. Don't worry, have a good break and I'll see your results when you're ready :)

    PS I don't think there's a right answer.

    (Is there ever?)


    Jon - welcome! It's a great word - my absolute favourite because I use it when my husband's in a bad mood and we always end up giggling!


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