I was out in my garden last weekend. It’s just a little strip of land below the window of my home office where I like to grow things. I have some chard going, and just added some cauliflower. Then I pulled some clover from the edge of the lawn. Then I trimmed back a lavender bush I planted in a pot a few years ago. I watered the redwood tree that is always struggling a little (why anyone ever thought to plant a redwood in Los Angeles is beyond me).
I love spending time in my yard, with the sun on my skin, the dirt under my nails. I always just feel a little calmer, even after just a short time out there, and it occurred to me the other day that one of the things I like so much about it is that I don’t really have an agenda when I go out there. Yes, certain tasks will motivate me (this past week it was onions and beets in need of harvest), but once I’m out there, I really enjoy just letting myself jump from one task to the next without much thought.
It reminded me of how I used to write. I’d work on a short story for a while, then write a blog post, then dabble with the novel. It was fun, relaxing even. Sometimes things got done, sometimes they didn’t. The novel took eight years.
I don’t meander though my writing any more. These days, I almost always know exactly what I’m working on. It’s either paid freelance work, my novel, or this blog.
But I just finished my most recent novel, so I’m feeling a little adrift. I know I should add a little “woo hoo” emoji here, but in truth it’s not done. It will go to the editor, there will be more rounds of notes. There is still much work to be done. If I’m feeling any “woo hoo” it’s for the terrifying joy of trying to decide what I’m going to write next. What’s the next idea I’m going to spend years of my life working on?
I have a novel that’s half done (I wrote it for NaNoWriMo a few years back), but I’m less excited about it now. I’ve been more drawn to fantasy and science fiction these days.
To try and figure it out, I’m going out to the garden (both literally and figuratively). I was supposed to go on a camping trip this week, but the forecast is calling for rain so the trip got canceled, and since I’ve already cleared my schedule, I’m going to take the days to wander through my mind, no goals, no intentions, just following whatever catches my attention. I will be writing a lot in my journal. I will be sitting in the hammock (assuming it isn’t raining – down here in LA the forecast is clear). I will be taking long walks with the dogs (leaving my phone behind).
I have to trust that something will come to me. Until then, I guess I wander.