My tree offers a limitless array of sensory experiences. There are growths that mirror human orifices. There are crevices and pockets where I place carrots and apple cores for the squirrels. I could write something about every one of these discoveries and never tire of the emerging details.
When I snapped this photo, I considered writing a blog consisting entirely of human body parts as depicted by the weeping beech. I’d title it “orifices.” But upon looking up the word found “orifices” to be technically wrong. Remembering a lecture during my MFA residency entitled le mot juste, I researched the origin of the French phrase for the right word, and listened, with pleasure, to the pronunciation of le mot juste by a computerized French Woman.
As writers, we must pay attention to details. As closely as I pay attention to the sound of the leaves’ crisp edges brushing the sidewalk. As closely as the sensation of coolness along the tree’s thick branches as I lie my chest against it, I must pay attention.
And yet, it is so easy to let the focus shift and shift and shift as I gather delicious details. I can spend my writer’s life collecting sensory images and imagine how to capture them in words. I can spend my writer’s life searching for similes between nature and a human life. In creating a writer’s life of observation, I can be quite content and fully present to the moment. There is nothing wrong with this choice.
However, if I want to spend my writer’s life completing a manuscript, regardless of length or genre, then I must allow the possibility that my fascination with the tree’s breasts is an act of procrastination.
Breasts are amazing details. Orifices that resemble human sexual organs are worthy of notice. And yet, I am certain that good writing requires probing beneath the surface. There is a reason that the breasts grew on the Weeping Beech. As a writer, I will consider why.