I once wrote an article called ‘The Silence of the Seeds’, about torturing innocent little capsules of life.
It was quite a violent piece, but I was shamefully proud of it. However, this trashy bit of true-crime writing only made it to publication in the student magazine of Box Hill Institute back in 1998, where I was doing my diploma in Professional Editing and Writing.
Here it is if you’d like to read it, but remember it’s the original piece, torn out of the flimsy (in more ways than one) student mag: 1998 BH Inst Silence of Seeds (you’ll need to click on this link, then again on the link that comes up, sorry).
Reading it now, it’s perhaps not the gentlest way to describe my volunteer work of raising indigenous plants from seed so they can be planted back on the land they came from. But I stand by my theme – sometimes you do need to be tough to achieve your aims.
I enjoy volunteering but I definitely prefer the type that involves less contact with other people. I did just say that out loud, didn’t I? Well, some of us enjoy time on our own, and in my present day-job as a receptionist, it’s rare that I’m not interacting with other humans. 38 hours a week of solid contact is enough for me! My poor husband is lucky I manage to converse with him at all when we’re home together.
TreeProject allows for people like me to volunteer in my own home, to prepare, plant and grow seeds collected from properties such as farms, reserves, National Parks – anywhere that needs reinvigorating with indigenous trees and plants, to restore the land and provide food and shelter for native fauna.
I have helped plant them out once or twice in the near-twenty years I’ve been doing this, but it’s not something I leap at doing. It involves interacting with too many strangers, and, unlike my optimism in the attached story, they treat my precious seedlings even more roughly than I treated the seeds.
But I have to be realistic – getting thousands of seedlings planted in one day means having to be tough.
And being a writer, I’ve learnt the same thing with my words (oooh, did you see that one coming!). It’s not a long bow to draw to make that connection – ‘kill your darlings’ is a favourite writerly phrase meaning that you need to weed out your precious words to produce a stronger piece.
As in my previous post, Still Peeling the Onion, the learning of how to do this never really stops. I still find it hard to choose between two seedlings growing in one tube, both straight and strong. But one has to be removed, to allow the other to grow even stronger. Keeping both will weaken both.
And so it is with writing – a short story was returned to me recently with advice to remove some of the descriptive phrases. As nice as they all were, too many can dilute the strength of the piece.
Great advice. Now just to apply it!
Meanwhile, my latest batch of seeds have just been planted, and the very first miniature green spots are making their appearance – too tiny to get a good photo – as the cotyledons push their way to the surface, feeding the seedling so that the first true leaves can be produced. Just like ideas germinating in your head for a story, really!
I could keep going with this planting/writing comparison for a while, but that’s enough for now. Hopefully I’ll have another fully-grown novel soon, grown from the tiny seed of an idea many years ago 🙂