Writing Is Work!

While reading became a source of great pleasure for me, writing is an altogether different matter. Elementary school was full of compositions and book reports. In high school and beyond, no semester was complete without at least one research paper. And I cannot say that I ever enjoyed it!

Sometimes the research was personally interesting, but, unfortunately, most times, this was not the case. Usually, writing these class requirements became just an effort to weave the material into a coherent piece and I was bored, bored, bored. While I usually did well with my assignments, I could never understand how my classmates were turning in fifty page papers when I rarely wrote a third as much!

Sometimes, however, we are forced into doing something we would prefer to avoid with surprising results. When I finished my schooling, I thought that I would never again have to write more than a letter or an e-mail ever again. However, over the years when I was a volunteer at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), I took an introductory botany course with the late, legendary Gary Lincoff. One of the requirements of the course was a weekly botanical journal, detailing plants and insects or any other natural phenomenon, that we noticed.

Gradually, this intense fascination with the natural world around me coalesced into the idea that I would like to share my fascination with others. The real question was, “How could I connect with an interested audience?”

We have lived in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx (NY) for most of my life. With a general involvement in community affairs, I have met many fellow Riverdalians over the years. It was my good fortune that around the time my interest in writing was surfacing (2015), that I got to know Shant Shahrigian, the then editor of the Riverdale Press. I pitched him the idea of a Nature column and he was willing to give it a try and my column, Green Scene, was born.

Shant moved on a few months later and was succeeded by Anna Dolgov. Anna stayed at the Press about a year and a half and was replaced by the current editor Michael Hinman.

The early articles were about 300 words long. Gradually, the articles grew longer – first to 500 words and finally they have reached the column limit of 800 words. But even then, it happens frequently that a topic needs more than 800 words and so I have topics that have run to two or even three installments.

The Riverdale Press has had to condense its weekly paper because of the corona virus and my column has been put temporarily on hold. Although, it can be stressful to write a new column every week, I do find that I miss sharing my observations with my readers. Therefore, I invite everyone to visit my blog on my website surajeselsohn.com.

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