Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Got Garbage?

Compost: a combination of decomposed plants and animal materials and other organic materials that are being decomposed largely through aerobic decomposition into a rich black soil.

Ever think your daydreaming might be a waste of time? The procrastination that strikes suddenly and with paralyzing force a loss of opportunity?

Maybe not.

Deb posted a fascinating account of a conference she attended. In it, author Ursula LeGuin spoke about compost, and how it's similar to what happens in our writing lives.
LeGuin is quoted as saying,
"Compost needs silence, darkness, time and patience."

Which ingredient do you find easiest to find? Which is more elusive? Is the soil of your writing garden dry or rich?

38 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

Patience! Most definitely. What a great analogy. And so true. When I stop trying to force things, I'll have this burst of creativity. My brainstorming stage does not progress at a steady incline like writing a rough draft and revising does. My brainstorming is like one of those EEG charts, only with a heart murmur, jumping and skipping all over the page in spurts and then lulls. It's sort of frustrating and unpredictable and a little scary (but exhilerating) because the plotter in me freaks out that I won't be able to come up with another story.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I like this question. My soil is rich, but the growing needs time.
~ Wendy

Jessica Nelson said...

Katie, LOL, I think you've come up with a pretty good analogy there! Love it.

Wendy, I know what you mean. :-)

Terri Tiffany said...

Patience for sure. Some days it is in small supply. How's your husband's project coming along?

Glynis said...

Patience, with a little nutrition on a regular basis. :)

Interesting post, thanks.

Janna Qualman said...

Jessica, this is awesome. I don't know that I've seen a more perfect writing analogy.

Silence is most important to me. I require a certain amount of quiet every so often--not just for my creative stuff, but as a person. I need lots of thinkin' time.

Hope all is well with you. :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Terri, eek! I know. Three boys can suck the patience right out of me! His project is coming along great. He's making some awesome contacts so I'm excited for him. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by Glynis!

Janna, wish I could take credit for the analogy. I thought it was pretty awesome too, which is why I linked to Deb's post. Like you, I NEED silence. Lots of noise just exhausts me.
Everything is well, thank you. :-) And I hope with you?

Jody Hedlund said...

Sometimes it depends on the day and my life circumstances. If I'm too tired or got a lot going on, my soil tends to dry out. But when I'm nurturing myself, I find that my writing soil is richer too.

anita said...

What a great post, Jessie! Love the comparison. It reminds me of a wonderful quote from The Thirteenth Tale:

“Life is compost. All my life … my experience, the events … the people I have known, all my memories, dreams, fantasies, everything I have ever read, all of that has been chucked onto the compost heap, where over time it has rotted down to a dark, rich, organic mulch. The process of cellular breakdown makes it unrecognizable. Other people call it imagination. Every so often I take an idea, plant it in the compost, and wait. It feeds on that black stuff that used to be a life, takes its energy for its own. It germinates. Takes root. Produces shoots … until one fine day I have a story, or a novel.”

So fitting. I think my compost heap (i.e. imagination) is pretty rich. But if I had to choose one ingredient I lack, it's the patience to let it all germinate. I want to have my story done NOW. Heehee.

Thanks for the thought provoking post, BQE. ;-)

Jessica Nelson said...

Good point Jody. I'm sure those squirrels dried up some of your soil. LOL

And Anita, I want your story done now too!!! Ha. :-) Wonderful quote! I didn't even remember that. Thanks so much for posting it.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Time is elusive for me. I never feel like I have enough of it, and I always think, "Once I get to the next stage of life, I'll have more time." Um, yeah, that hasn't happened. Maybe once the kiddos are out of the house. :-)

Jeanette Levellie said...

What a great comparison! Silence most eludes me in my circusy life. I believe my ideas are rich, but they need growth and time to mature. I'd like some fertilizer, but that's kinda smelly!

Jessica Nelson said...

Sarah, once the kids are out... LOL That's what I'm hoping for too. :-)(not that they'll be gone, but that I'll have more time)

Jeanette, LOL. That's a good point. Sometimes our ideas stink too, but that doesn't mean they don't add to our compost. :-)

Jessie Oliveros said...

This is very good. I have lots of time as a mom to decompose, as I'm sure you can relate.

Jayne said...

Hello! I came here by way of Julie's blog Silver Lining. I thought your comment to her was really supportive, about upping the stakes - really good advice.

The ingredient I find easiest is more a of an action - sewing the seeds! Yes, I love plotting (bwhahaha, she says, rubbing hands together in the manner of a James Bond baddie). The most elusive ingredient is objectivity - I really have to make myself step away and concentrate on that one. I think the soil of my writing garden is rich... but needs daily upkeep to keep its PH balance!

Erica Vetsch said...

Patience...def. the patience.

I'm always eager to jump into the next project, to get moving, to be doing something and working on something.

Emily said...

Ha! I clicked over as soon as I saw your post was about compost - I want to start composting for my garden this year. I never thought about the similarity between composting on spirtual life. I've got to say, though, patience is the toughest ingredient for me. I tend to react too soon or find an alternate way of doing things rather than wait for everything to fall into place, and that doesn't always work out...

Jessica Nelson said...

Wow, I step away from the computer to fold laundry, and you all stop by! LOL

Jessie, I SO feel like I'm decomposing, in more ways than one. *grin*

Jayne, Hahaa! Your comment is too funny. Love that James Bond image. LOL So you're a plotter? Lucky girl! I love how you mention sowing seeds...It's not enough to have good soil. We have to put something in it, right? :-) Thank you so much for stopping by.

Jessica Nelson said...

Erica, I totally get that about you! Esp. in that post I read this morning. LOL I'd love to have some of your forward momentum. Pretty awesome.

Emily, I know what you mean. I'm in awe that you compost. It sounds like such a good thing to do, I've just never tried. Maybe this summer...thanks for popping in. :-)

Diane said...

Silence. Even in my own head. Too many wandering thoughts.... :O)

Talli Roland said...

Great question! Silence is quiet easy to find. Patient, not so much!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Nice post! My dd came into the office the other day and wanted me to come look at her closet. I said, "I'm working right now." She said, "No, you're staring out the window." I smiled and didn't turn away from the window. "For writer's that's working."

Deb Shucka said...

I love what you've done with Ursula's words about compost, Jessica. This was really fun to read. Patience is definitely the most elusive for me - has been my whole life in just about every area.

Even with that my writing soil is moist, rich and wriggling with worms.

Beth said...

I don't find ANY of them easily! How awful! I am very good at procrastinating, sometimes to my benefit, and sometimes to my detriment. Some of my best ideas come to me when I'm procrastinating :)

Elana Johnson said...

For me, the two ingredients I need most of are silence and time. Then my ideas can really stew.

Nancy said...

I find time the easiest and silence the hardest. I'm alone a lot, but I'm always thinking. To let ideas come in, I need to stop turning things over so much. Good post. I hate garbage, but compost just sounds rich and useful and healthy.

Julie Dao said...

Thanks for the links! And I love this analogy. I think my writing garden is very high maintenance ... lol. I have to remember to give it water and love and above all - time and patience. I can only hope that someday, something beautiful will grow out of it.

Karen Lange said...

Had a writing instructor tell me once that sometimes doing nothing is really something - as writers we are often pondering and percolating ideas. Thank you for the links:)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Love the compost analogy, especially since I'm in the gardening mode these days.

Without a doubt, patience is my weak link. However, I'm learning.

When I'm wrestling with a scene or a possible blog post, I put it on hold and pray. The answer will come at the oddest times: in my sleep, taking a quick break with an icepack (today!), or reading a blog.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sherrinda said...

Great analogy, Jessica! I love the thought of all that percolating underneath...needing time and stillness...ahhhh, I need more of that! :)

Keli Gwyn said...

I think daydreaming--or composting--is a valuable part of any creative endeavor. That's when ideas come together and I end up with something far richer than what I'd have if I plowed ahead without adding compost to my creative soil.

Jessica Nelson said...

Love all your thoughts on this! Thanks to each of you for sharing. :-)

T. Anne said...

OOh I like this! And I believe it's true. We need to ferment out thoughts for a while before they come barreling out of us.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I think that's what's missing right now, from my posting today and my thoughts today - yes, the fermenting, the laying of things and letting them compost....now everything is FAST FAST hurry and get it done hurry hurry!

love this today.

Jill Kemerer said...

I'm a mom! There's no silence, time or patience! But I can't really say there's darkness either. I'm a happy gal!

Linda Glaz said...

For those of us who've lived a looong time, we know that
compost happens!

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL Linda! You're hilarious...

Jill, I don't know, I've had some dark thoughts with this whole parenting thing. *grin* Great comment.

Kathryn, very true. I know you have to work faster now, but I hope you still get some of those necessary ingredients for a beautiful story. ;-)

T.Anne, yep.

Sandra Orchard said...

Silence. Before being published I could pretty much ignore the internet, but not now that I'm supposed to be marketing, too. Now, it's too easy to fill those lull moments when I should be letting my story ruminate in my mind, with "other" stories on blogs and FB etc, in the name of marketing. LOL