I had a fall gardening article due and somewhere between feeling inspired to write before everyone else got out of bed and actually sitting down with my laptop Sunday morning, the feeling disappeared. I suspect it was in the middle of getting another cup of coffee and actually walking up the stairs to grab the laptop.
By the time the panic of “this thing is due tomorrow” rolled around later that afternoon, I had picked blueberries for breakfast, made breakfast (blueberry pancakes of course), read the entire Sunday Times, gone to the grocery store, the drug store and the natural foods store (the best tofu is back!) realized the reason why the laundry chute was no longer accepting donations was because it was jam packed full all the way to the door an entire story above where it’s supposed to land, discovering the missing slip cover along the way. You’d think the slipcover was the sole reason for the laundry jam, but alas, it was not. It had some help from another slipcover, a comforter, an entire bed’s worth of bedding, every last dog towel and two weeks’ worth of clothes from every member of the family.
Only after doing a few loads of the previously mentioned laundry, a long rambling dog walk and one cleaner downstairs bathroom later did I sit myself down to finally write the all the preceding words and finally, 87 words on my assigned article. Feeling off to a good start, I took a break to check laundry, plant more okra in the garden, grab a fresh water bottle, sort out a dinner plan and take approximately 350 pictures on my phone of bees in bee balm before sitting back down to knock out another 500 words.
Once I get going, I can easily turn out 750 words in no time – having done my research earlier and pondered the structure of the piece, I can sit down and bang it out at once, especially if it’s a topic I’m already pretty familiar with. There are pieces I do need to do more work on, but rest assured to any editor of mine reading this, as soon as I agree to the assignment, I start doing the legwork to determine exactly when I need to start writing the piece while also guesstimating how many drafts there will be. For every piece I luck out and can pull together in a focused hour or two, there’s a piece that takes hours of research, educating myself on the topic. Of course, I usually only take on those pieces when it’s something I want to learn about – like my recent piece on backyard berries.
Writing about gardening means I often find myself sitting in the garden while writing – it’s a perk of the job, although it also often means I’m interrupted a good bit. Over the years, lacking a proper spot for writing, I’ve gotten used to doing it amid all sorts of distractions. I seem to be the sort of person who operates better doing multiple things at once. Although it’s a horrible writing practice, even if I am able to write two pieces at the same time while doing it.
Sitting in the garden to write also means I find myself sitting outside in 90+ degree weather writing about planting bulbs this fall that will bloom next spring while also wondering what ate all my beet greens and exactly how much longer that lettuce has in the garden (not long). I suppose there’s some metaphor in there about how gardening is never ending and an exercise in optimism or maybe even some wondering about how I can suspend belief for writing gardening pieces but not fictional ones. Maybe I’m just so wedded to facts and structure and productivity that writing about gardening just seems easier to write than anything else and it’s more easily woven into my scattershot million things at once style of living and procrastinating and writing. Or maybe it just better suits my habit of liking to take way too many photos of flowers and bees.