Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Soirée - Our lives are compost heaps of writing material

Natalie Goldberg said,

"Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones out of our minds, come nitrogen, heat, and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil."

When we think we can find nothing to write about, we have only to look at our life experiences, fluff it up a bit and we are sure to find something to craft into an essay, an article, a story or a journal entry.

Many of the articles I've written over the past eleven years were sparked from and garnished with scraps from the compost heap of my life.

Tell me, what kinds of garbage have you found in your life compost to ignite a writing session, jumpstart an article or story or garnish a piece for presentation?


Joanne said...

So true, Cheryl. And when we sprinkle the compost on the soil of the page, what a garden grows! Full of texture and vitality and color, springing off the page. All my nonfiction is derived from my journey through this life, often tied in with the music I love. My fiction, not so much, though there are bits of compost to be found in that garden as well, if you look hard enough!

Cheryl Wright said...

Hey Joanne,

Compost, compost everywhere and it's inspiring and nurturing not only our own lives but the lives of the people we touch with our writing.

It may not be as obvious in fiction but it is there in the underlying stories and values in a story that is geared towards improving readers' lives.

I like what you said,

"...when we sprinkle the compost on the soil of the page, what a garden grows!"

Thanks for sharing this beautiful concept.

Magnolia said...

As I continue on this journey of stoking the writing fires and pursuing my lifelong passion, I find that where I once thought I had writer's block, was really a silly belief that the ordinary and mundane things in my life were uninteresting.

Now, I can see a story in every vision in my mind. I can hear a dialogue in every internal conversation in a book and I can imagine an essay catching fire with just one simple observation or passing comment that I or someone else might make.

Now, I'm beginning to understand how writers become "prolific". They simply latch onto their life and let 'er rip.

Jan said...

A lovely, thought-provoking post, Cheryl, and I do agree with you. In fact, I think I actually wrote an article for a women's mag once about this...making a garden out of the compost of your life!

I've often found myself reflecting on my "litany of sorrows." All those sufferings each of us has experienced. I love using those for writing prompts and turning them into essays on blessings in disguise. It's very healing and can sure shift our perspective on things....

Cheryl Wright said...


You have been letting 'er rip for a long time now. That's what kept me glued to your blog since my first visit.

Cheryl Wright said...

Hi Jan,

Those "litany of sorrows" make the richest composts.

janice said...

Oh I do love this quote!

I usually find my relationship disappointments get tossed into compost and left to rot and miraculously come out and blossom as appreciation for the things and people that are going right in my life.

I love all gardening metaphors when it comes to writing.

Cheryl Wright said...

Hi Janice,

Nice to see you here. It's been a while.

Oh yes, there is no end to those garden metaphors.

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