Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Writing and Gardening and Voting

Wednesday Morning Update: Yes! Yes! Yes, yes, yes!!!

Happy Voting Day! This election has had me all tied up in knots (as it has almost everyone I know) and I'll be glad when it's over (as long as it's over in my favor!).

After I sent off my two short stories for workshop last week, I felt pretty much sapped––of ideas, of energy, of creativity. I dutifully went to the library Tuesday and Thursday evenings, straining to find something to put on the page for my packet deadline yesterday, but there was nothin' there. Finally, by the time the library closed Thursday night, I had two ideas. I went home and wrote the first one before bed (five pages in an hour! I'm pretty impressed with myself on that one) and, when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, got up at two in the morning to write half of the other one (only four pages in an hour––my productivity must be off in the wee hours).

By the time the weekend came, I still had a ton to do to finish the packet, but I felt a great need to do something totally wordless, specifically, dig in the garden. I'm a super lazy gardener, so anytime the urge to play in the dirt strikes, I must heed it. And since I put so much work into reclaiming my herb garden (I did eventually clear out the other two quadrants), it seemed like a good idea to give it a little continuing maintenance (I do think this is the first time I have ever put any of my beds "to bed" for the winter). I harvested the last of the oregano, sage and mint, pulled out encroaching grass and wayward mint plants, gave each quadrant a bucketful of compost and mulched the whole thing over with leaves. Then I weeded my asparagus bed (in a somewhat half-*ssed fashion, but better than nothing) and gave it too some compost and mulch.

The whole time I worked on this garden back in July, I kept thinking of it as a gardening metaphor, and now I think about how I can feed my own writing some compost (reading, talking to people, experiencing things), prune it (axe purple prose, little darlings, adverbs, sentimentality). The year-round MFA program does not offer any opportunity for mulching over and dormancy, but that can come later.

I found myself feeling a little jealous of my garden, with its coming rest. I often think that I wouldn't  mind winter nearly so much if I just didn't have to do anything but snuggle by the fire with a stack of books and some knitting, and maybe a pair of snow shoes for moments of cabin fever.


  1. Oh dear, now you've got me started with writing/gardening metaphors. This could be dangerous.

    I'm reading a book on holistic health and the author talks about gardening - specifically, putting your hands in the dirt - as tremendously beneficial for emotional and creative health. That urge you had to get digging was, apparently, a smart one.

    Hope that you get a few chances to lie fallow this winter. And may the garden of your writing be fruitful and multiply. (Oh, brother!)


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