Monday, March 29, 2010

True Confessions

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. I have not written for two weeks!

I could give you lots of excuses—I've traveled for book events, I've prepared to teach a college creative writing class, I've done lots of book-related things...but the truth is, I could've had plenty of time to write. Why didn't I? Because the sun was out and it's gardening time.

It's still too early to plant most edibles, annuals, and perennials (but some cold crops can go in already), but the point is, after the longest, grayest, coldest, snowiest winter ever, I had to BE OUTSIDE!!!

As usual, in my enthusiasm, I took on a HUGE new project, creating a giant garden bed in one half of my back lawn. I've happily hauled compost and rocks for days and have made huge progress. I've included photos here, so you can see the changes. (The first photo was that half of the yard when I first saw the house, before I even owned it. Yep, that's the shed where I hide the bodies...). The second photo is what I did in that part of the yard my first summer—edibles in little triangular bed. Guests loved those beds, but eventually they became a pain in the butt to mow.

The third and fourth photo are of the project-in-progress. I'll keep the cute little shaped beds, but within one giant bed that doesn't have to be mowed. The shapes will be defined by stone paths throughout.

I think the appeal of this project has to do not only with being outside, but with how quickly I will see the end result. It's hard work, but it's work I love—quite like writing. Unlike writing, however, (especially writing a novel), I will see a final product take shape within mere weeks.

There's something highly satisfying in that. And all that mindless work with my hands is rich time for mulling plots and character motivations. As I turn the soil, I'm always turning a phrase and finding the perfect way to describe an image.

Compost is rich, after all. Writers use everything—the good, the bad, the interesting, the seemingly banal. Just like a compost pile eventually breaks down into luxurious treasure, so, too can all these collected observations, overheard bits of conversation, and half-baked ideas. It may take a long, long time where it appears nothing is happening...but slowly all that material heats up and is composted into a story.

So here it is. What I've been doing instead of facing the page. After that initial immersion into gardening season, I've found the balance now and can write and garden. I promise to keep you posted on both.


  1. That's so pretty! You seem quite talented and well rounded in everything you do!

  2. Well, that's very nice of you, Kerry. It's certainly not true of EVERYTHING I do, but thank you. I can't wait to post a photo when it's done...

  3. It looks wonderful. Will you be inviting me over for mint juleps in the garden? I might have to get a big hat to where for such a festive occasion. :-)