First Posted: 4/5/2009
Nancy Johnson has always been a writer. She just didnt always know it.
It came as easy to her as her love for gardening, but she didnt know if anyone would appreciate her writing as much as her beautiful flowers.
In just a little more than a year, Johnson, 60, has been nationally published three times.
Her latest writings are included in The Ultimate Gardner: A Collection of the Best Experts Advice for Cultivating a Magnificent Garden with Photos and Stories. The book is written by Charlie Nardozzi, and published by Health Communications Inc. It debuts this month.
In it, Johnson has three stories: Mr. Chipmunk, Grannys Found Planters and The Bird Ladys Pot.
She shares the story of a family who shares a garden with a comical clan of chipmunks. And, she also writes about a thrifty granny who reuses old dish pans and tin cans to plant her flowers. She teaches her granddaughter that vegetables feed the body, but found planters and flowers feed the soul. She writes that she learns an irritating customer really cared for her when she leaves her a valued pot.
Each tale, true and poignant, is told in a hint of Johnsons southern twang through her choice of words.
Raised in the foot of Fancy Gap, Va., shes in touch with her southern roots and it shows in her writing.
I enjoy writing because its something I can do myself, said Johnson, who has owned House of Plants for 30 years, a greenhouse off U.S. 52 in Mount Airy. There is no interference from others, I can do what I like.
To Johnson, writing is a luxury that she didnt realized could also be profitable.
I just made up stories in my mind, she said. I didnt know it was profitable. What happened to me was mostly luck and meeting the right people.
Her luck started when, shortly after taking a creative writing class a few years ago, she encouraged herself to send a story to a local state magazine. She didnt expect a response, as matter of fact, she anticipated a rejection letter by e-mail.
So, she was rather surprised when they enjoyed her piece, and wanted more.
One of the few compromises was making her southern dialogue more universal for readers across the board to grasp, but it was a small price to pay to have her voice heard.
She later had a column entitled Fancy That, a reference to her hometown, Fancy Gap.
Its been fun ever since, she said.
She writes regularly for Latitude magazine and also has stories in the Ultimate Cat Lover, in which she writes about rescuing cats, and The Ultimate Christmas, in which she writes how hard she tried to gain 50 cents to buy a Christmas gift when she was in elementary school.
Her advice to those pursuing writing to be published parallels that with those who are looking to garden.
Be persistent, she suggested. Have tough skin and stick with it.
The Ultimate Gardener is available where books are sold. For more information, call the publisher at (800) 441-5569 or visit www.hci-online.com.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.