Seedbombs, the urban wasteland and writing

It’s late. The husband and kids are already in bed. I have a pile of essays to grade and some quiet time to think.

I have to admit that besides writing, gardening is one of my other passions. At the moment, I have a humble and rambling container garden, composed of dwarf trees, herbs, ornamentals and tropical vegetables. Yes, you heard right. Tropical vegetables, suited to the heat and humidity of Singaporean weather. I have Mollucan spinach growing as well as pots of “daun dewa” (or Gynura procumbens). I hope, in the future, to grow more tropical perennial vegetables.

Now this leads to my topic.

You see, I was chatting to a friend regarding the state of Singaporean writing and publishing industry. Our mood was at first pessimistic, because the challenges were too difficult to bear. A brainwave hit me. I suddenly saw Singapore as some urban wasteland. Empty space with dry soil and nothing else. An imagery of hopelessness. Yet, I see us – writers, authors and creators – as guerrilla gardeners, growing herbs, vegetables and plants that would nourish the body (and the soul). I see us throwing seedbombs – seeds stored in balls of clay and mud – into this urban wasteland and watching these seeds take root. Granted that some will not, but some will… eventually.

I think writing genre fiction in Singapore is like that: seedbombs in an urban wasteland. Some might argue that throwing seedbombs repeatedly is a futile act. But I beg to differ. We persist, we work hard and it will pay off.

What do you think, fellow writers?

PS: I have been reading up on perennial vegetables and my garden is flourishing with all the heat and rain!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jaraix
    May 15, 2011 @ 07:06:28

    Given the difficultly, I’d say that it’s akin to changing the weather itself, let alone planting a few seeds. To be more specific, it requires a critical mass (a forest or ecosystem, if you will) to change the weather and environment towards one more amenable for living things of all kinds, including readers.

    And that point is probably the more troublesome one. Literary writers have their day in the sun, that is true, but aside from the occasional official recognition (depending on subject matter) and a coterie of literary folks, writers alone do not make an ecosystem. You still need readers to read and provide comments, criticism and even financial support for the whole cycle to go round. Or to put it this way: writers also need readers to thrive.

    The literary circle is more of a greenhouse in the midst of an arid land, with the usual problems of maintenance and cultivation. I wouldn’t go as far as to blame Singaporeans for their lack of imagination or obsession with the rat-race; it’s probably a cultural thing that we have yet to work through. Give it some time. Maybe the recent events mark a change in the winds.

    p.s. Happened to read up on urban agriculture and guerilla gardening just this weekend, although I’m not home often enough to grow anything. Uncanny.


    • jolantru
      May 15, 2011 @ 13:21:38

      Interesting imagery/motif of the Singaporean literary circle as a greenhouse [Mmm, greenhouse – I want one…]. It’s true, however, that a “coterie of literary folk…do does not make an eco-system. ” Lack of readers however might spell death.

      I am willing to give it some time though.



  2. Eli James
    May 20, 2011 @ 08:01:19

    I found this a beautiful image, actually. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂


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