Yesterday, the donkeys got out of their pen.
As we chased them around the field, trying to get them corralled again, I found myself thinking that this was not what most people imagine writers doing in their free time.Â And since turning in my final edits a week ago, I’ve been blessed with an abundance of free time — the first free time I’ve had in months.Â I’m not accustomed to it.Â I wake up every morning ready to be anxious, ready to tackle some new writing task, and suddenly realize: hey, I don’t have to write!Â I can do whatever I want to!
And what I’ve chosen to do is work in the hot sun like a field hand.
Besides chasing those naughtyÂ donkeys (who eventually were coaxed back into their corral) I’ve been weeding my vegetable garden.Â Yesterday, my husband and I installed an irrigation system in our new vineyard — and picked the ticks off each other afterwards.Â We’ve been double-diggingÂ hard-packed clay soil, enriching it with donkey manure and compost and seaweed, in preparation for a new flower garden next to the barn.Â Every night, we’ve collapsed into bed, exhausted and sunburned.
I’ve had the greatest time.
A week ago, starting on the next book was the last thing I wanted to do.Â But now, after only a week away from my desk, I can feel the old writing engine start to hum back to life.Â I’ve been hearing snatches of dialogue, and a character’s voice — a teenage girl, about fifteen, streetwise and in big, big trouble — and I’m almost ready to sit down and start her story.Â But not yet.Â I need to let her put down roots first.Â I need to let her develop, somewhere in my subconscious, before I tell her story.Â
In the meantime, I’m headed back to the vineyard again today, toÂ yank up the last of the winter rye that’s invaded the grapevines.Â I need to mulch the asparagus bed and the edamame plants.Â And there are lots and lots of blueberries that have ripened in our field over the last few days, and I’ll be picking them for tomorrow’s breakfast.
It’s good to be a writer.Â But it’s also good when I don’t have to write.