A Blogger’s Lament

, Crrritic

A productive weekend is behind me.  I’ve re-organized the shed, wired in a new light for the barn cats, planted six five-gallon Itea and marked out the corners for the spring vegetable garden.  There’s a new straw bale encampment for the leftover camellias, a water barrel installed on the barn downspout and my family is currently sleeping off the remains of a damn good roast dinner.

Now I’ve got to blog about it.

Never mind the fact that I’ve already written two print columns this week.  I’m a garden writer in the digital age.  It’ll take more than 600 twice-weekly words of well thought out copy, wickedly injected with humor and carefully wrapped in clever cultural references to grab the attention of gardeners digging with the hand that isn’t holding their phones.  They want daily updates, tips, trips, edge, ten-star photos and reviews on the latest tool. Don’t bore them with too many adjectives.  Don’t jade them with too many facts.  Just give them your status. And then do it again.

Staring at the screen, I can’t help remembering a lecture I once attended by the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Russell Baker who bemoaned the fact that writers today have no time to think.  Blog blog blog.  Find some time to do the work we’re blogging about.  Blog blog blog some more. I fought the title of “blogger” for years.  I’m a writer, a columnist, a freelancer…anything but a blogger.

Oh no my darling – own your hell.  Blog.  The screen is still blank.  WordPress wants a title – something catchy. Key words, key words….Well, ‘garden’ obviously, but does that negate the need for ‘gardener?’  I list ‘garden’ and all variations thereof and write the required two paragraph update on my plot, my life, my dress-size for the stalkers and my headache for the sympathizers.  Facebook is updated, the sidebars are changed, a photo is added and Sisyphus is once again at the top of the hill.

Yet the boulder will roll down again, and  in my thoughtless keystrokes and hurried references I will lose my voice.

A writer’s voice, their greatest strength, ebbing quietly away in a world of one-sentence tweets and indulgent diary-esque musings. The voice that made you want to live with Lloyd at Great Dixter, sip sherry with Sackville-West, and take Amy Stewart to a party.  The voices that charmed you and delighted  you and never over-used the rule of three.  Those voices are busy gardening . Do you have the patience to wait for what they write?  Will you have the time to read it?

Marianne Willburn is a garden columnist and freelance writer gardening in Northern Virginia.  You can read more at The Small Town Gardener or follow her work on Facebook.

Posted by

Marianne Willburn

on January 30, 2014 at 6:35 am, in the category Guest Rants.

Comment List

  • greg draiss 07 / 03 / 2016

    Such self aggrandizing……………….just write already. Nobody’s garden is going to die waiting for any of our words to come in print

  • Marianne Willburn 02 / 11 / 2016

    Thanks Frank!

  • Daniel Weil 14 / 11 / 2016

    Your rant is a charming exception to the usual dismal quality of blogs. Blogs spell the end of literacy, literate writing and well-structured thought. A bit like email vs. letters.

  • Jerry DD 15 / 11 / 2016

    ‘Those voices are busy gardening . Do you have the patience to wait for what they write? Will you have the time to read it?’

  • anne 16 / 11 / 2016

    I can’t disagree with Daniel’s and Jerry’s comments about blogging vs. writing–and yet here we are: reading and responding to….a blog post! So, what is it we want or expect from blogging? A place to have our say (even if no one is reading), a community of like-minded souls, a virtual hang-out to take a break during our day?

  • Marianne Willburn 17 / 11 / 2016

    Yes Anne, the irony has me smirking a little too.

  • Marianne Willburn 19 / 11 / 2016

    My intent in this piece is not to self-aggrandize or to demonize ‘blogging’, but to call for quality over quantity and an audience who values the same.

  • Tracy 19 / 11 / 2016

    Good lord. You’re making me work way too hard. I read it, and I still have no idea what this was about.

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