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August 23, 2010 / theoldsilly

Monday Meandering Muse – The Right Recipe

Thanks for blogging in. Continuing today with my series on comparing organic composting and gardening with writing, here’s the latest muse epiphany the Old Silly has had during this past summer whilst traipsing through hay fields and poopy horse stalls and also pursuing his career as a writer.

Last week my son and I built our largest pile of compost yet. While nothing compared to the volume and scale we have planned in the future once we are more capitalized and have the machinery we plan for our mass production operations, it is pretty darn big for our humble start-up business standards, some 8’ wide, 12’ long, and 4’ tall. We use a recipe of aged hay, horse manure (hot—the fresh droppings), fresh grass clippings, aged manure of all kinds, weed whackings, coffee grounds and kitchen food waste, primarily, plus small amounts of whatever else  we can get … basically whatever organic material that is no longer considered ‘useful’.

Out motto is, “Your trash is our cash.”

So you take all the unwanted ‘useless’ crap, layer it up, wet it to just the right moistness, it should be like a damp sponge—but one that does not drip when squeezed—then let it sit to start heating up. Once it’s got the microbes working, heating up to around 140+ degrees, usually takes two or three days, you start turning it every two to three days to mix and blend the ingredients, keep the microbes accessing all the material, ensuring a quickly done and nutritionally consistent throughout final product—that being, rich, black, organic fertilizer.

This morning we came back out to the farm, took the tarp off the pile and it was steaming away, looking like a smouldering brush fire if viewed from afar. Pretty cool. She’s cooking, for sure. And it is inexorably evolving, all the various components melding together and turning into one thing … a fine finished compost.

Is that not like fiction writing in many ways? Your plot idea is your recipe. You have to have all the elements, and a good variety of them, to make it heat up and ‘work’. You take various characters, places, happenings, conditions, etc., all of which by it or themselves would not make for a story at all, but when put together just right, mixed together, often twisting and turning the elements for better blend and outcome, and the book starts cooking—gaining momentum. Once it starts cooking, you can’t let it sit. Got to keep working it, turning it, blending it, keeping the heat and momentum building. And if it’s a really good story (recipe), with the right combination of ‘materials’, it builds a fire that consumes all the elements and breaks them down, melting them into one. One darn good novel—rich, compelling, entertaining, and intellectually and soulfully nutritious.

And that’s the Old Silly’s Monday Meandering Muse for this week. Blog back in tomorrow, I hear Professor Old Silly will be conducting his “Writing With Power in Fiction” Bloggyversity class. Should be a fun session. Chow, gang … got some poop to scoop and a pile of steaming crap to turn today, and then some characters and a red herring to add to my next book’s recipe later this afternoon. 

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  1. Mary / Aug 23 2010 6:21 am

    Must say this is my first blog of the day. Quite the eye opener. Won’t be eating until later, LOL. (I did learn a lot though.)

  2. Marcus Franks / Aug 23 2010 8:25 am

    Creative analogy, Marv!

  3. Barbra Witherspoon / Aug 23 2010 8:44 am

    First time visitor, found you while googling, lol. Loved the muse and the blog … I’ll be back! 🙂

  4. Cactus Annie / Aug 23 2010 9:38 am

    “Your trash is our cash” – lol – LOVE that! Good analogy, Old Silly, clever and creative, as is SO usual for you. 😉

  5. kissnatl / Aug 23 2010 9:42 am

    Next book?! Already? I should have known.

    • theoldsilly / Aug 23 2010 10:42 am

      Yuup … try to keep up, punkin’ (wink)

      Actually, I have 3 WIP’s, as is my usual want … if the muse gets unamused on one, I can almost always re-amuse it with a switch of topic/plot, whatever.

  6. karen walker / Aug 23 2010 9:58 am

    Composting as an analogy to writing works really well for me. Good luck with your current newly released book.

  7. Alex J. Cavanaugh / Aug 23 2010 10:39 am

    You scoop the poop, I’ll edit my writing!

    • theoldsilly / Aug 23 2010 10:43 am

      Sigh, ok … I have to do all three – poop scoop, write, AND edit – not fair! lol

  8. Helen Ginger / Aug 23 2010 11:50 am

    Marvin, you are probably the only person who would think to equate writing with steaming compost. You’re a hoot, as my grandpa would have said.

    • theoldsilly / Aug 23 2010 12:17 pm

      Yuup, that’s the Old Silly, fo sho … hoot, hoot! 😉

  9. Stephen Tremp / Aug 23 2010 12:07 pm

    Wow! You can learn something new everyay. Another project I can do with the kids today. Thanks.

    Stephen Tremp

    • theoldsilly / Aug 23 2010 12:18 pm

      The kids? Do you teach kids, or are your referring to your own little darlings, Stephen? 😉

  10. ReformingGeek / Aug 23 2010 12:59 pm

    Sheesh. It sure is smelly around here. 140 degrees of smoldering shit. Not too many people would brag about that, Marvin.


    • theoldsilly / Aug 23 2010 1:17 pm

      Yuup, but hecky, Reffie – why d’ya think they calls me The Old Silly? (wink)

  11. L. Diane Wolfe / Aug 23 2010 1:41 pm

    My dad used to grow (create? nurture?) our own compost for our garden. Ah, the days of just throwing our trash outside…

  12. Connie Arnold / Aug 23 2010 3:38 pm

    Who but you would think to compare a compost heap to writing and do it so well! I think I would much prefer to write than to do what you do to your compost!

  13. Bluestocking / Aug 23 2010 9:17 pm

    This comparison cracked me up.

  14. yvonne lewis / Aug 24 2010 1:55 am

    I have read this before breakfast………will be a while before I eat.

    Very interesting reading Marvin.

  15. tashabud / Aug 24 2010 2:29 pm

    Your compost pile at 140 degrees is smelling pretty aromatic right now, Marvin. I can smell it all the way here in Wyoming. Tehehe. Love your creative analogy.


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