I am obsessed with my vegetable garden. I get up while it is still dark, to write, and as soon as the first light is peeking over the hill, I am peering into the garden to see what may have sprouted, or what may have grown a new leaf. I love the tiny plants.
Jaya (my partner in crime) is really interested in my vegetable garden, too. The first bed wasn't growing fast enough for her, so we found another soil mixture and got another bed going. She plowed up the earth and I scattered the seeds. They sprouted quickly! Especially because we were getting them enough water, I having learned a little more about Indian sun and veggie gardens. Ahem. I'm just learning. But now the sprouts aren't growing fast enough for her. She suggested DDT, to keep the ants away. (A resounding NO!) She suggested we spread some mystery fertilizer that the gardener left here. He hasn't been here in two months, and I haven't been able to ask him what on earth it is. So I said no to that too. And "Shhh," I said. I didn't say, "Quiet, they won't grow if you talk that way about them," because it would have been too much crazy for her, but I meant it. "They just need time," I said.
The poor little sprouts. They need time. We aren't using chemicals, so they need time. They have half a day of sun, so they need time. They are just learning how to be plants, so they need time.
I've been blocked, lately, creatively. Not so much with fiction--I'm rolling along with my second draft quite well-- but with journaling, blogging, tweeting, drawing. All those types of things. Blocked. The truth is that I show up at the computer and I feel like I have nothing to say. It can't be true, there are thousands of things going on, but I feel like I can't say any of them out loud.
And I think I have pinpointed the problem.
See, for me creating involves a lot of trickery. The process is so delicate that I can sabotage it quicker thanyou can blink. (Probably, I don't actually know how fast your blinking is.) So I have to trick myself. This is why habit is so important to me. I've developed a habit of getting up VERY early, making coffee, and sitting down on my front porch. It is the most normal thing in the world. I'm tricking my creative self, pretending nothing is happening, this is nothing special. And I sit down with my printed pages and my little table, sit right there on the floor, and what usually happens is that my creative self comes out and we spin along for a while, until she is tired and sleepy.
It's not that I am particularly devoted. It's just that I know that if I don't show up for a few days, the attention it takes me to leap back in will make my creative self recoil in horror. 5:30 happens to be the quietest hour in my homeschooling world. (Go figure.) So that's when I'm there, ready, waiting.
It still feels like a very safe place. This is where I get wide open.
I wrote a book, and I love my book, and with the act of putting my book out there, I needed to introduce a whole new self to my self pantheon: Marketing Self. Marketing Self believes that we would sell the book a lot better if we would hustle a little more, rattle the can, show up at the page with wit and whimsy. Tweet gorgeous intellectual things.
Creative self is sucking her fingers, saying "Wha?"
"Go write a blog post," says Marketing Self.
Creative Self takes her fingers out of her mouth for a second. "No."
"I opened the Twitter page for you," Marketing Self says. "Write."
Creative Self sits in the corner and puts her hands over her ears.
"Now!" Marketing Self says.
"I don't have anything to say," says Creative Self.
And then Mom Self comes into the room and lets us all know that it's time to make dinner because Solo is starting to pull hair, which means he's hungry, and if we don't move quickly, the children will turn into werewolves.
Marketing Self has been listening to all the buzz around the web, all the stuff about what you should and shouldn't do on Twitter, the do's and don't's of blogging, and frankly, Creative Self would rather just hide in a closet or play in the mud or make a paste out of flower petals and spit and glue it all over the porch. (Mom Self won't let her.)
Creative Self wants to dream, and moon around, and dabble with some sketches. She wants to make stuff that she'll never show to anyone. She wants to show up at the page when she has something really good to say. She doesn't want to pay attention to any do's and don'ts lists. She's like a snail, she'll curl back up in her shell.
"I know how to treat her," I tell Marketing Self. "You can't do it that way. You can't yell at the sprouts to grow. You can't tell them they're not growing fast enough. You need to wait. You need to fool her by looking away and not paying much attention. Maybe you could sing to her?"
Marketing Self looks at me for a moment, then takes her shoes off and lays down on the couch.
"Fine," she says. "I'm going to sleep."
In the corner, Creative Self takes her hands off her ears. She starts to draw something in the dust on the floor.
"And for heaven's sake," I tell Marketing Self, who has her eyes closed on the couch. "Don't show her any more lists on the do's and don'ts of Social Media."
All I get in response is a snore.