Why “True Leaves”?


Over the next few months, I hope to grow my blog space into a place of  reflection – both on my work as an Expressive Writing Practitioner, and on my own writing.

In the meantime, I thought I’d stop to answer one of the questions I most often get asked – why “True Leaves”?

Often, trying to capture meaning can feel like trying to hold water in our bare hands.  When this is the case, metaphor can provide an accommodating vessel – containing the essence of what we want to say, without forcing us to grasp at it.  Metaphor can even be used to describe itself – such is its power!  That’s why it is one of the most useful items in the Expressive Writing toolkit.

For the title of my small business, I’ve chosen my favourite metaphor.  The gardeners among you may need to read no further – but for those who aren’t green fingered, let me explain.  When a plant first ventures above the soil – having received enough nourishment to begin reaching toward the light – it produces “seed leaves”, usually two.  Though these initial leaves are a sign of growth, they aren’t enough to reveal the plant’s identity – before that can happen, it requires more strength, more encouragement, more care.  Eventually, the “true leaves” appear – miniature versions of the plant’s final form, showing us what the plant will eventually become, what it’s potential for fruit or flower may be.

When I first heard this, on a “gardening for beginners” course, it struck me as a perfect analogy for writing, and indeed for life.   When we start to express ourselves, or when we first venture out into the world, we don’t always define ourselves straight away.  Only when the conditions are right can we show our true leaves – that first hint of what we may be able to achieve.