Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Photo Tuesday - The Bonsai and Writing

We visited the NC Arboretum this weekend in Asheville. One of the gardens was a display of Bonsai trees.

What surprised me was the variety of trees. (A five foot black rat snake nearly surprised us as well, but that’s another story.) There were oak, birch, elm, and pine trees, all sculptured in Bonsai fashion. Each display was a miniature version of the full-fledged tree in the forest.

Bonsai requires a lot of patient work. The tree and shrubs want to grow large and wild, but one must keep trimming and pruning to maintain the miniature size.

The same thing happens when we write. The story wants to blossom into this massive tree, its braches forming in every direction and spawning much undergrowth. But there’s truth in the saying you can’t see the forest for the trees. After the first draft, we must trim. We must curtail the wild growth and tighten our tale. We need to consider each and every branch, pruning those that get in the way or lead to dead ends. Only through this Bonsai process can we create a thing of beauty.

Are you concentrating on trimming the wild growth in your story?

Have you ever attempted a real Bonsai tree?

I wonder if they come in plastic form...?


Natasha said...

Those are fantastic bonsais.
At one stage, I had four bonsais in various stages of bonsaidom, one died on me, and three others decided they wanted to be someone else. I now have one almost bonsai, and two more that I could perhaps force into becoming bonsais, but can't bring myself to :-(

Never thought of the parallel, but my writing is similar - it normally decides what it wants to do, and who am I am interfere?

Thank you for such a thought provoking post! And I want to hear about the rat snake too.

Mason Canyon said...

Now if there was a plastic bonsai I might be able to keep it "alive" for awhile. LOL. I understand that caring for a bonsai is suppose to teach patience and caring, but that does little for my black thumb.

Beautiful photos.

Thoughts in Progress

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

They're so CUTE! I just love bonsai.

And good analogy...we do need to do lots of cutting to keep our trees and manuscripts healthy.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lisa said...

This is unreal! I've never seen anything like it. I like the way you relate both the bonsai and writing. Indeed good writing is just like plant trimming :)

Sheila Finkelstein said...

What a great analogy with writing and bonsai! Though I don't have any bonsai I do appreciate it. If you're near, or ever in, Delray Beach, FL, The Morikami Museum and Gardens has a WONDERful section with a sampling of a wide range of plants, some many years old.

Karen Walker said...

The photos are beautiful, Diane. I love Bonsai trees, but I've never had one. I don't do live plants. I tend to kill them, unintentionally, of course. The analogy is a good one. We must trim and trim and trim our writing to shape it well.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I find Bonsai trees fascinating and have tried growing them but never with much luck. Now I just admire them from afar and avoid the guilt for killing something. What a great analogy to writing. For me trimming is one of the hardest but most necessary parts of editing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never thought of it that way. And no chance of me ever attempting a bonsai!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Rayna, you are way ahead of me.

Mason, I always say I have a brown thumb, so you must kill them faster than me!

Sheila, I will look for it next time I'm down that way.

Jane, trimming is toughest for me as well.

Talli Roland said...

I'd be up for a plastic version! Have you ever heard of Bonsai Kitten (http://www.ding.net/bonsaikitten)? (I must point out that this is a hoax and no kittens were harmed.)

I need to trim my MS a lot. Delicate pruning and some chopping here and there, too.

Laura S. said...

I've always wanted a bonsai tree!

Yes, I'm currently trimming my story's wild growth. Somehow it seems to continue growing in places I've already trimmed... I think it's time to get out the chainsaw!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Talli, that was a hoot! There's days I want to stuff my cats in a jar.

Laura, wonder what we could create with a chainsaw? Besides a mess?

Nancy J. Parra said...

This is a great post and would make for a wonderful workshop if you expand it. Love the pics. thanks for sharing! Cheers~

Anonymous said...

I have a pretty good size junkyard with all the trimmings I have from my books. Pruning can be painful as we become emotionally attached to our work, which is really an extension of ourselves. But it has to be done. Thank God for editors and feedback from readers.

Stephen Tremp

Helen Ginger said...

Never done bonsai. Don't think I have the patience for it. They are beautiful, though. Usually, my problem is not trimming, but adding in. I tend to write lean with little description on the first go-round.

Straight From Hel

Marvin D Wilson said...

I love bonzai and these are wonderful ones!

The Old Silly

Elana Johnson said...

What a great analogy. And beyond true. We snip here and trim there and beautify that sentence, etc. So much like pruning and gardening.

I've never done anything with bonsai trees, because well, I pretty much kill plants. I can't seem to keep them alive.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Stephen, sounds like you need to have bonfire!

Elana, the only thing I can grow is spider plants. And those things took over my house at one point.

* said...

Oh, those Bonsai trees are a delight!

Good luck speaking tonight! I bet it will be fabulous!!

PS: Redheads unite!

Allyn Evans said...

As always love your pics!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the trees and the analogy!

I've always written for myself - which means I wrote pretty much everything that showed up in my head - loads of descriptions! The first ms I decided might be publishable required me to trim it completely in half. I think if I really do want to continue with the process for it, it now needs a total rewrite. I've learned a LOT since I wrote that! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you, Terresa!

Jemi, it's wild to look back, isn't it?

Susan Fields said...

That's an excellent analogy, and so true! That's why I have to have a detailed outline from the get-go, otherwise I'd be all over the place.

Debbie's World of Books said...

How cool! I love looking at bonsai trees but I have a total black thumb so I would probably kill one in under a week.