books, fiction, writing

Bonsai Writing

My fiancee and I went to a bonsai festival this weekend. Naturally, since then I’ve been watching a lot of videos and reading a lot of articles about bonsai, reassuring myself that yes, I should not become a bonsai hobbyist. For me, the most interesting theme in all these videos is how slow and gradual the work is: artists work every day on their living sculptures, pruning and refining, transplanting and fertilizing, and day by day the average person wouldn’t see any change at all. Only after decades does the mature plant show the vision the artist had in their head all along. If you went to a bonsai nursery, everything under the age of two would look like an unremarkable seedling, and it would be hard to imagine how those twiggy little things could transform into sculpture worth handing down for generations.

So I was thinking about writing, and how it’s slow, incremental work, and how little progress the average author seems to make from day to day (even a prolific day’s writing is only a few minutes’ reading for most people). And so I though I might like to put a little sapling on display, so that no matter how long it takes me to finish a piece of my regular work, there’s always a little window open for anyone who’s interested to see what I’m doing. So I created a document today, and planted a seed, and here it is:

This is the beginning of what I hope will turn out to be a novel. It’s an actual working document, with notes and scribbles and half-finished sentences and all, and so far only a few words of prose. If you’re ever curious about what I’m doing, you can go and have a look, and leave a comment if you’d like. I’ll try to spend at least a minute on it whenever I tend to my other seedlings.

Image by Ilona Ilyés

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