For the past several months, I’ve been growing herbs on the windowsill in my kitchen. I have a spindly basil plant that was full of leaves until last weekend when I made a tomato, cucumber, and basil salad and stripped him halfway bare. Not to worry: he’s happily sprouting dozens of new little buds that will soon season a summer full of salads in the Craig house.
The cilantro isn’t faring as well, mostly because the new recipe for salsa we discovered a few weeks back calls for a lot of cilantro, and let’s just say we really like salsa. We tore through the cilantro before giving it time to recover. I may be replacing the potted cilantro with a transplant from my garden.
The rosemary, on the other hand, is packed with dark green, aromatic leaves ready to grace another pan of roasted potatoes … maybe even this evening. It’s bushy enough to sustain a deep cutting and still look healthy and full.
Though I’ve tried growing herbs indoors in the past, I’ve never had success until now. It doesn’t take a botanist to understand the difference, however. With the herbs at eye level in a space I occupy every day, I can easily see when they need more water or more sunlight or a little pruning and address their needs before it’s too late.
I’m learning the same is true of my writing life. My life with words doesn’t thrive when it’s neglected or isolated or relegated to the edges. Keeping my writing life within the natural routines of my life helps; that way it stays front and center where I can see the idea list growing too short or the number of deadlines needing to be pruned down to manageable.
At the same time, I need the regular exposure of art exhibits and documentaries and good books and interesting conversations, the natural “sunlight” of my creative life that isn’t always forced into an essay or book project but just feeds my writerly soul.
Finally, my writing life needs the regular pruning that comes from everyday use. It’s not there just to look pretty in the kitchen window. It needs to be clipped and chopped and used for spiritual journaling, for helping clients, for selling to publishers, and even for encouraging friends. These are the salsas and soups and salads of life that need the savory seasoning that my words can offer. With use, my words are honed and improved and critiqued.
Feeling like your writing life is stilted or wilting or shriveling up from neglect? Maybe it needs to be brought out into the open and repositioned as part of your daily life so you will easily notice what it needs and address it right away. Before it’s too late.