Thursday, March 31, 2011



It’s officially spring.  Daffodils are blooming.  Seeds are sprouting.  I’m writing a new book.  All these growing things make me think about fertile ground.  If you don’t have it, whatever you plant won’t thrive––whether it’s an idea or an actual tomato.  You don’t need to envy those who live where the grass is greener.  And you don’t have to spend a lot of money on chemically enhanced dirt.  You can compost. 

Wait, what?  Isn’t compost another word for garbage?  What does that have to do with writing?  Actually a lot.

The principles are the same whether you’re making literal or figurative dirt.  Your compost depends on what you don’t eat.  Rich compost starts with a balance of fruit and vegetable scraps.  So try new things.  Expand your diet.  Mix those coffee grounds with mutsu cores and beet peels.

Your compost is also what you read.  Good old newspapers are a great addition to your pile.  But those glossy magazines with pretty pictures can be poison for growing things.  So don’t put them in.

And don’t put in anything really stinky.  Those old chicken bones and cheese rinds really are garbage.  So is the cat poop.  You might think you can get some use out of that crap, but you can’t.  Get rid of it.  And get rid of anything infested with diseases like greed or envy or cruelty.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep those poisonous feelings from infecting whatever good things you’re trying to grow.

Okay now you’ve got a lovely pile of whatever you’ve half-eaten, experienced and read.  But your work isn’t done yet.  You’ve got to turn the pile over and over, again and again.  You need to air it out or your ideas will rot.  Some moisture is necessary, but if you drown the pile with too many tears, you’ll get slime. 

Finally, you need heat to speed up the magic of decomposition.  And what is heat?  Passion.  Get excited about whatever you’re doing.  Love your work.  Love your family.  Love your garden.  Love your life.  

And then, when you’ve got a dark, rich pile of compost, plant your best seeds and watch them grow.