I’ll bet many people have compared writing to gardening. I love both pursuits. Coincidence? Here’s my take on how blogging is like gardening.
1. You have to get rid of the bad stuff. I weed, weed, and prune, prune. I edit, edit. It’s all cutting out the weak parts, or parts so strong they threaten to overpower the whole. I love pruning. I have these ingeniously constructed pruners and I’m kind of addicted to using them. Also, I don’t meditate; instead I weed my moss garden. It’s relaxing to pull out the jagged bits that interrupt the smooth surface of my moss. Likewise, I love to cut words out of sentences. Not only do I savor short sentences when reading, I love the process of making sentences shorter. It’s immensely satisfying to cut out words. Chop–another word bites the dust! Another dead branch on the ground! Also, I like shaping trees and shaping paragraphs, attempting to make them more graceful and less awkward.
2. I never know if my project will die, survive, or thrive. I assume veteran gardeners experience less uncertainty. But reading through quotations about gardening tells me unpredictability is an painful innate truth of gardening. This parallels my blog posts whose popularity I can’t gauge.
3. Mistakes have been made. My friend Celeste has the most lavish flower gardens in her yard. She gave me a small plant that she said would grow to be a purple butterfly bush. (Butterfly bushes are supposedly deer-resistant–a key point here in NC). Eagerly, I watched it grow. It blossomed not into a butterfly bush, but into a plant that bore yellowish, daisy-like flowers that bloomed for a day before the deer gobbled them up. I’ve made so many mistakes in the blogging process. It sometimes takes time to realize something I’m looking at is not what I think it is.
4. Some stuff really takes off. My oak leaf hydrangea are growing exponentially. My hosta looks like it is on steroids. I won’t say my most popular blog post is huge, but it gets more hits than I predicted.
5. Some stuff breaks your heart. I once spent about ten hours digging a hole (because we have solid clay in this part of NC) for a jessamine plant. This was obviously pre-kids, on my school schedule when I had summers off. The jessamine apparently didn’t get enough sun, and died. Most homeowners in our cul-de-sac have spent considerable effort trying to grow grass in our front yards. We’ve aerated, sprinkled seed, fertilized and watered. But, you guessed it, grass has rewarded our efforts oh so stingily. Grass does not want to party here, except in the yards of a couple households that assiduously apply chemicals. We have collectively given up. Other plants I have sent to the graveyard in the sky include coral bells, clethra, spotted dead nettle, columbine, and pieris japonica. Similarly, some of my blog posts never have attracted much notice at all. Boo.
6. You can get good ideas by looking around the neighborhood. Some yards have mismatched plastic lawn chairs. Some yards have delicate purple flowers cascading over rocks, in alternating layers. Some blogs have appealing photos, great graphics, and amazing original content that makes me say to myself, “How do they come up with this stuff?”Some bloggers have zillions of followers and comments. I try to learn from their success.
7. Non-writers/non-gardeners just don’t understand. They think it looks easy. ‘Nuff said.
8. I have strong opinions about it. On my former commute to work, one company that I passed had a few pine trees with pine straw around the base, but– here’s the unusual part–hardly any pine cones lying around on the pine straw. I found it very restful to gaze at. I would picture the yard guy diligently picking up the pine cones like, every day, and I wanted to thank him. And I want to say to bloggers, why are you putting a white font on an orange background? Are you trying to give me a migraine? Readers of this blog may be screaming inside with unvoiced advice to me, and I’m totally okay with that.
9. You have to be cheered by slow progress sometimes. The bleeding heart comes back every year, and this seems like a victory for such a fragile-looking plant. My blog stats are slowly improving. Also, writing and gardening projects always take longer than I think they will.
10. Sometimes it looks pitiful. Sometimes I look at what I’ve written/grown, and it appears small and uninspired. I find it helpful at these times to take a nap.