Sometimes the things you cut out of your work can lead to unexpected serendipity. And sometimes, as I’ve observed before with apples, daily life can lead a writer to new insights.
In addition to writing, this week I spent an afternoon in the garden, pruning. The hedge in the southeast corner of our yard is overgrown. The burning bush crowds the red-twig dogwood, which squeezes out the hydrangea in the corner. That entire section is a thick mass of gnarled, dead, and diseased wood. The hydrangea gets no sun. That bush, which should be, well, bushy, is squished into a thin pancake between its larger neighbors.
I wriggled in under the hedge and began pruning from the bottom. Weeds went first, then the crossed and tangled branches, then the deadwood. In some ways, that’s like editing one’s work: Pull out the clutter. Simplify the complex. Ditch the useless.
Sometimes, though, I severed a thick, gray, lifeless branch only to find that it had grown to the top of the bush, proudly displaying its leaves and flowers. It could no longer thrive with the plant, but needn’t be destined for the brush pile. It still had beauty and purpose in a vase. That’s the “Hydrangea Sunset” shown here.
Observations: Most of this week’s work was off the blog, rather than on. I pressed on with “Harry Houdini and the Witch of Beacon Hill” and did some more for a nonprofit fundraising project.
On the subject of pruning, however, I cut an entire blog post by my friend the Rhetoric Referee. I use this alter ego as a guest blogger to explain some of the tricks and deceptions used by politicians and the media to control the narrative.
I was reacting to a recent report on NPR’s “Morning Edition” about the network’s annual poll on border control policy. The point of the report was not so much on the policies themselves, which are worthy of discussion. The poll asked how many people agree with one side’s talking points. Then it sought to counter those arguments while blurring the distinctions between border control and immigration in general.
I find these story-behind-the-story discussions timely, interesting, and valuable, but generally posts by the Rhetoric Referee don’t have much of a readership. So I put an entire essay on the back shelf this week. Anyone interested in reading it?
Interaction: Posts are getting more Likes from bloggers and on Facebook, and the review of William Zinsser’s “Writing With a Word Processor” prompted comments from friends on Facebook.
Professional development: Finished Zinsser’s book and continued work on my own. Posted the review on Amazon and Goodreads.
Next week: Continue with Margery book, finish reading another book on writing and do a review.
In case you missed it …
Top-of-the-head inventory, 1979
Reading Time: 2 minutes “Items in Stock” was, in truth, a misnomer. Some were complete, or ready for a final draft or a rewrite. Others were ideas or characters in search of a plot.
Award-winning coverage? (1979)
Reading Time: 3 minutes Newspapers have associations, which sponsor competitions. But it’s a long trip from “thinking of sending it” to actually receiving an award.
A dead-end job? (1979)
Reading Time: 2 minutes Now, Howard. Listen carefully. It’s important to be honest with a potential employer. But there’s such a thing as being TOO honest.
No realistic understanding, 1979
Reading Time: 2 minutes Know what your work is worth. Not knowing may mean either you won’t get the job, or you’ll be undercutting yourself.
The end is in sight, 1979
Reading Time: 2 minutes Returning to the fraternity house, which alumni sometimes did, was a Really Bad Idea. I was already spending way too much time there.