Thursday, May 08, 2008

Blogs, gardening, and optimism

Yesterday, two different friends said things that stuck in my craw. So I let them percolate in the back of my mind while I worked toward my writing deadlines:

"It's easier to deal with crises like this in spring," said a friend when I told her about my husband's recent diagnosis with bladder cancer, "It's such an optimistic time."

"Why do you blog?" asked a former writing student who is now a writing colleague and friend. "I don't have time."

I don't have time to blog either, but after I mulled both comments all day as I wrote, interviewed sources for a magazine article, answered emails, and made some progress on filing and accounts, I took my laptop to the couch, put my feet up, and wrote a new blog entry, "Gardeners: optimists by definition."

As I pondered and typed, read and rewrote, I realized how to respond to the second comment: I blog because it is my way of "composting" what comes at me in life. It allows me to think through the detritus of my life and turn it into something useful--to me as well as to readers. That ability to turn gunk into wisdom is why personal essay and memoir can be so powerful.

As for the first comment, it took the new asparagus sprouts in my garden to show me what my friend meant. Spring is an optimistic time, for all of life. It's a season that writers can use to give our work new energy, and new insight. Here's how my "compost" came out at the end of my blog entry:
The optimism my friend meant, I think, is about believing in the continuing cycle of life. It's not hard to apply that to Richard and his bladder cancer. He's blessed with caring people dealing with him and they're upbeat about his prognosis. So I'll just press my seeds of hope and rejuvenation in the soil of the universe, in the belief that spring will flower for him, time and again.
Writing can change the world, and also our view of it. Isn't that why we do it?

Susan J. Tweit
author of books, articles, and commentaries on the ties that bind us

1 comment:

Janet Grace Riehl said...

Yes, writing CAN change the world and it definitely DOES change our view of it. I know of no other reason to do it.

Writing is part of the cycle of life in its own way.

Janet Riehl