Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tending my Garden

Voltaire's Candide has been one of my favorite works of literature for a long time.  I read it in high school, and giggled at what I didn't understand as satire at the time.  I read it again in college, and was exposed to some of the deeper thematic elements.  I taught it to an advanced class in high school, and learned what Sparknotes had to say about it.

Now, I occasionally think about different aspects of the novel and how they apply to my own life.  Today, I'm going to talk about tending my garden.

At the end of the novel, after the MC and all his cohorts go through all kinds of trials and quests, Pangloss, the voice of reason, convinces everyone to just tend their garden.  So they do.  If I recall correctly, they find a nice little commune to reside in and make a lovely little garden to tend.

Metaphorically, I suppose it means that everyone should just take care of their own shit, and not try to fix the world.

People get a lot of peace from gardening.  It could harken back to the Garden of Eden, a sublime place of peace before the tree of Knowledge was molested, unleashing horrible knowledge on the world as we know it.  Or it could be that we just enjoy fresh produce and pretty flowers.

I like to think of my writing as a lot like gardening.  A seed of an idea is planted, whether from a conversation, song lyrics, a pretty face, or something.  Then it germinates in my head for days, weeks, or months before I finally put it on the laptop.  The revision process could be equated to weeding, and coddling the plants themselves, with an endless amount of patience,as I watch them grow into something recognizable.  Harvesting (publishing) is the reward.

Life gets in the way sometimes, and I get bogged down with the day to day drudgery of cooking, kids, social media, my husband's stuff...and I have to forget about my garden for a little while.  When that happens, I go back to it, and find that I have to do some pruning, and fiddling with it to get back in the mood to work again.

Despite the junk that makes up life, I will have my writing.  I will have a place to go to tend my garden.

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