NotYourNano Day 1 – planting your tomatoes


Happy December 1st, writer-people!

This being post one, first let me add some well-rotted manure to our soil. Everything I write here is a suggestion. There is only one rule, as such – write a minimum of 100 words. If you know what you want to write, go ahead and ignore the rest of the post – it’s just going to be there for extra guidance for those who want it.

Some of you are hopping in mid-novel, you already know what you want to do and you’re just here for the tea and cake, others want a little more input. However you work is fine – there is no one size fits all for artists – if there were, we would have software writing our novels while we sit back in our hammocks drinking pink gins.

So, to start. All you have to do today is write a few sentences about your novel. It doesn’t have to be good, or catchy, or clever – this is not to hook an agent. This is to plant the idea in your head. This is the tomato seed, the very basic starting point of what you’re going to do.

Want an example? (and as I say, this doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to get the basic idea down, it only has to make sense to you.)

My story is about a girl who feels like she can’t compete with her older sister, and after she loses her and is forced to take her place, tries to replace her with her step daughter. She’s spent her whole life trying to be daddy’s little girl, only to realise he doesn’t care because she’s a girl. It’s inspired by Snow White, but will go completely off track because that’s me. Also, it’s all about witches and women and their power, and what is good and what is evil, and how it all depends on who is doing the story-telling.

that’s 100 words.

And now the seed is waiting.

(and as an added extra, let’s talk about the novels we’re working on as tomatoes. Walk in to any grocery store, and you will be confronted with ranks of these:


I’m not going to pretend – they look great, so red and delicious and I want them on fresh bread right now with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and black pepper.




they are not the only tomatoes, they’re just the most popular.


Go do a google image search of heirloom tomatoes or tomato varieties, and go pick one you like. I’m not even kidding, go do it. (i did, it’s part of my self-encouragement strategy) Here’s mine, it’s an Indigo Rose:


Every time I look at my tomato and decide it’s not as good or round or red or perfect as those grocery store tomatoes, I’m going to look at what *my* tomato is supposed to look like. I will be happy that my tomato is different. Revel in my tomato’s idiosyncrasies of colour and taste and shape. *This* is the tomato* I am growing.)


*If your novel is not a tomato, that’s perfectly okay. It can be an aubergine or a cucumber or a courgette or a patty pan, as long as it’s yours.




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2 Replies to “NotYourNano Day 1 – planting your tomatoes”

  1. Done! The seed for my san marzano tomato has been planted. Thank you!

    For years I have outlined and planned and plotted and brainstormed, brainstormed, brainstormed, but have never really gotten anywhere, especially because my initial results are never even close to how I picture them. Although intellectually, I know first drafts are always bad, but I just keep slipping back to more planning and brainstorming and never progressing.

    So, for kicks, I’m shelving all those grand ideas I have been running over and over in my head for years and hope to publish someday. Instead I’m going with a dream I had Thanksgiving night. I have no idea what happens after chapter 1 and doubt it will ever see the light of day beyond my computer. But that’s what I need right now to actually get some different results. It’s actually opposite to how I like to work, but how I like to work hasn’t actually worked yet. So best to try something new – and this is a great idea to try it not with a great leap into the unknown, but a gentle step of planting a seed.

    I’m excited, and thank you for the nudge in this direction!

    1. I think the disparity between what’s in your head and what comes out on the page is a huge and frightening issue for most artists. It’s very disappointing to see how far short it falls from our imagination.

      We just have to keep putting words down, one after the other, and when it’s finished, revise revise revise. That’s the biggest part of getting my words to resemble what was in my head, I found.

      And what a lovely tomato! I kinda want to grow all the tomatoes now. 😀

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