I’m fortunate enough to live with a gardener. I’ve been enjoying watching the plants grow, bear fruit, and now as the autumn creeps closer, I’m watching it fade. It’s not a sad thing, because I know the plants will be back next year. I’ve been paying close attention to the way the plants have taken charge of their domain, despite the orderly rows and neat hills where they were initially planted. It reminds me a lot of how the stories I write tend to burst the bounds of the ideas I had for them originally.
That thinking led me to realize that stories are very much like gardens. Gardens come in an infinite variety of sizes, styles, and combinations of plants within their borders.
Some gardens are neat and orderly. They follow a predictable, development, maintained by the gardener so they grow sure and steady in tidy rows. However, this purposeful organization does nothing to suppress the beauty of these gardens. They can be soothing, comforting, and perhaps even contain a few surprises, if the gardener chooses to present them.
Other gardens are wild and woolly, barely contained within their beds. In these gardens, a surprise lurks around every corner and a visitor will be kept on their toes. The occasional “volunteer” plant may appear, its seeds brought in by the birds, or perhaps the wind. In these gardens, even the gardener is surprised by the result when it is in full bloom.
With both of these types of gardens, they are still only a framework for the gardener to work within. The colors and types of plants chosen ensure each garden is different from the other even if they use the same form.
Of course many gardens fall somewhere in between, with patches of predictability and wild little corners. So too is it with stories. Some carry us along familiar paths, delighting us with the little details the author inserts around hidden corners. Others are wild and adventurous, leaving us reeling with their fickle natures.
The tone, characters, and many other details of these stories are the plants of an author’s garden. They can choose where to trim the hedge of the tale and where to let the edges of the story disappear beneath the vines.
The stories within this issue are each their own garden of words. The authors have tended and tilled until the tale takes on the form they envisioned. They embraced whatever twists and turns that led them to the garden you find before you.
I send you off now, to wander the paths of story our authors have created for you to explore. Go now, and seek the meadows of delight we have in store.