Monday, September 19, 2011

What I Learned By Watching a Tree

You read that title right.  I have learned something by watching a tree.  And not just a something, but a something that was brilliant enough to make it into a blog post.  A something so fantasmic, so alarmingly insightful, so....

Okay, fine.  I'll stop waxing eloquent and tell you what I learned.

But first, I should explain a few things.  The first is that, yes, I am guilty of being a nature lover.  I do watch trees.  For fun.

The next explanation is this: yes, I'm weird.

Now that we have those basic facts out of the way, let's get to what I learned by watching a tree.  This should delight all of you, unless you are devout tree haters, in which case I don't think we can be friends anymore.

So, today I was watching a tree as it shed the first of its autumn leaves.  It did so in front of a stream of middle-schoolers and their parents, but I doubt anyone (except me) noticed.  It quietly let go of some of its showy canopy and retreated inside.

And I realized how similar I was to this tree.  How all of us who are writing for publication are like this tree.

No, I'm not losing my leaves.  Bear with me here...

You see, being an author, especially one with an online presence to maintain (which, last time I checked, was just about every writerly person on the known planet), is pretty much like a tree in summer.  Our showy canopy glitters in the sunlight for the world to see.  We preen and rustle in the wind, and people see us and say, "Gee.  That tree...uh, PRETTY."  And we like the attention, and we realize how much we love what it is we do.

But then something happens.  It could be that we have a book hitting the shelves, and we realize we are terrified of the reviews.  Or maybe we are in the middle of a first draft and we realize we have written the worst draft ever in the history of the written word.  Or it could be that we receive our one-hundred-and-forty-seventh rejection from an agent--and it was THE agent for us; the one we had placed the last of our hopes and dreams on.  Or it could simply be that we realize we are tired of the business of writing.  Whatever it is, we start to lose a little of the love we had of being a writer.  And, before we know it, we've retreated from the world.

Now, you are probably wondering why on earth I would share such a depressing story.  This isn't my usual  earth-shattering, amazingly inspiring posts, you are thinking to yourself. In fact, you are ready to take the tofu burger and fries that you are eating and squash them into your computer screen in the hopes of forever blotting out the drivel you just read.

But if you did, then you'd miss the other half of this post.

And that is, that I have learned more from watching a tree.

You see, I have learned that a tree is a magnificent, plant.  Because it has learned that, sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to turn inward and focus on what matters most.  In this case, its roots.  And if it does so during those months where being a tree is a difficult thing to do, then soon enough it realizes that the spring sunshine is just around the corner.

So trees don't give up.  They don't wither and die in those cold winter months.  Instead they forget about that showy canopy and focus on the roots.  And if they do, soon enough they are rustling in the summer sunshine once again.

So, the moral of this story is:  there is a season for everything, and sometimes it's not only okay but imperative that we focus on our own roots..our writing (our stories).  If we can leave the worries of this business behind for just a little while, it makes all the difference when it is our time to blossom.

So go ahead.  Be a tree.  I, for one, won't call you crazy, even if I am a little weird.


  1. lovely analogy. unfortunately i've been in the dead of winter for....oh boy, i stopped counting...! i'm still waiting for my summer's showy leaves!

  2. I like the comparison. I find most everything I like can relate to my writing: knitting, reading, raising kids, nature. It's all food for my writing frame of mind.

  3. Thanks, Amie and Karen.

    Amie--I do hope your summer comes soon!

    Karen--Yes, I agree. I'm quite enjoying myself as I attempt to find an analogy wherever I turn.

  4. Wonderful post. I'm going to watch a tree straight away!

  5. Thank you, Elissa. Perfect words for me today.

  6. Tim--good thinking. Watching trees is obviously a great pasttime, imo.

    Mirka--you are so welcome. I'm glad they helped.

  7. Nice analogy. You must be a writer. Writers think this way about things, even if it might seem a little crazy to other, "normal" people. My kids always tease me about how I turn everything into a metaphor on life.

  8. I'm a tree lover too! Somehow they find their ways into everything I write. Love this analogy. Especially well timed, you've given me a new light to view my current "dry spell" in. Thank you.

  9. Wow, that's just the coolest analogy, and I can so relate to it. I love trees, too, but I love birds in flight more. But birds and trees go together, so it's all good! The MGlitchat was great. What a wild ride trying to keep up. Great tweeps! Thank you.

  10. Alice--oh, hey! How did you know I was a writer? ;)

    inluvwithwords--Tree lovers unite! And you're welcome. I'm glad it gave you some new insight.

    LynNerd--why, thank you! I'm glad someone thinks my analogies are cool. And I'm also glad you liked MGlitchat! Yes, it is a wild ride, but lots of fun, too.

    Thank you, all of you, for commenting!