I started them from seed indoors in February: three kinds of leaf lettuce--romaine, Tango, a French summer crisp. I also started raddiccio seedlings, arugula, and spinach. Today I will add
more seedlings to the waiting garden beds: leeks, onions, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery.
This week, the garden is calling me very loudly. So what's a committed writer to do? Ignore one art for the other? Or find a way to balance writing with other loves?
If I am listening carefully to my own self, to what I am pulled to not out of avoidance but out of love, I know I can't ignore either. The garden is in prime planting time right now, and the weather has been seductive. But even more, I know the balance of nature will benefit my writing. It will "fill the well" by replenishing my creativity. The images received from gardening tonight will be sources for inspiration for my writing tomorrow.
Most writers need to be refilled by other loves. All art forms count: painting, music, dance, cooking, gardening, any self-expression. This need to be refilled is not procrastination if you're following the love.
A reader from New York wrote me last week about how to choose between all the art forms that call her.
But when I have a real choice, when I am not under deadline, I follow the love. What do I feel love for, in this moment? If I bring that love to the page, for example, my writing is not an hour or two spent in irritation and longing to be doing something else. Here's how I do it:
3. When the unfinished sentence doesn't work, I know to warm up by freewriting for 20 minutes in my journal, picking a topic that's not my chapter but something that's been on my mind (similar to Julia Cameron's "morning pages" from her book The Artist's Way). Or perhaps I'll freewrite about how I hate my book and hate writing in general and would much rather NOT be doing it at this very minute. When I can't even budge my creativity from these tricks, I reread a chapter in Mark Levy's new book, Accidental Genius, on the benefits of freewriting, or I revisit chapter 4 on "Filling the Well" in my own book, Your Book Starts Here.
6. Finally, I allow myself to fill up on unexpected images. Gardening by late evening light, when the sun is slipping over the mountains, gifts me with heart-piercing images. These images will stay with me until the next morning when I sit at my computer and begin a scene about my characters talking on the lakside dock in late spring as the moon is coming up. I trust that each art form feeds another.