Saturday, September 23, 2006

Clearing out the Cobwebs

By Keith Fisher

Twenty years ago, I lived for Saturdays. It was my special day. Weekdays were okay and Sundays were great because I could worship, serve, and rest. But Saturday was the day I could do my thing. I enjoyed camping, fishing, and extra curricular activities but most of all I loved yard work.

My routine was great until other things began to take over my Saturdays. I started planning family reunions, teaching Dutch oven cooking, and cooking for groups. Yard work got shuffled to the back burner. Although I enjoyed the other things, I felt the pangs of regret when I saw the weeds in my lawn. I started referring to my once beautiful garden, as a "weed patch" and I kept promising that next year it would be better.

Recently, on Saturday morning I woke up and bolted out the door. I had a free morning so I planned to try and salvage my "weed patch". After mowing the weeds and testing the sprinkler system, I started with the easy jobs. I discovered my yard needed far more than one day to get it back into shape but I was working on it.

Far too soon, I had to put my tools away. I remembered a prior commitment. Before getting ready, I sat at my desk to make some phone calls and eat my sandwich. Of course, I turned on the computer and opened Word as always. Glancing at my project folders brought to mind the scene I‘ve been planning. "It’ll only take a few minutes," I said.

I was in heaven. The words were flowing from my fingertips faster than my mind could formulate them. I had reached a state of nirvana that I dream about, but can’t quite reach during my usual writing time.

It was beautiful. The things my characters were saying amazed me. They were solving their own problems and neurosis’. I was having a great day. Then, I remembered my appointment. With sweet sorrow I dragged myself away from my desk and rushed to one of those other things I mentioned above.

I began to wonder if the yard work is really that important to me. If I could write every Saturday, as well as I did the other day, who cares if my lawn grows to be four feet tall? Maybe I could schedule my life so I could write on Saturday morning. Of course as some friends have pointed out, I would probably get a visit from the lawn police.

Then I discovered a connection. Maybe the yard work had the effect of clearing out the cobwebs in my brain.

I thought about my weekdays and how I come home from work and try to write after a long day of filling my brain with cobwebs.

"Aha," I said. "Maybe if I schedule my yard work for an hour before I write . . ." You know where I’m going with this. I can have my cake and eat it to. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Even if it doesn’t help me to be a better writer, it’s better than having the neighbor’s Virginia Creeper vine take over my house.

(Note: I wrote this in advance and as I post it this morning I have to postpone my yard work due to rain and colder weather. Perhaps I can clean out the basement storage? No, that would be too scary. I heard there are things growning down there.)

1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

I've actually been in my basement lately, and let me just say -- those rumors about things growing? They're true, every one of them.

You make excellent points here, Keith. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your writing is to clear out the cobwebs. You can think about problems in your plot while you're doing something else. I've heard Julie Coulter Bellon say that she thinks through her plots while she's scrubbing the toilet, and then when she gets back to the computer, she knows what to write. Maybe if I did more housework, I'd get more productive writing done. I just may have to try it sometime.