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  • Writer's pictureChristine Shuck

Gaining (or Regaining) Perspective

Sometimes, the simplest answer is the hardest. And sometimes, it takes a reminder from a friend and reader to remind me to do what I already said I was going to do.

The call of the yard, outside projects, and renovation dreams disrupts my writing every single spring. But is it a disruption? Or is it a necessary respite?

I'm reminded of a scripture from Ecclesiastes, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant..." (No, I'm not religious, I'm just well-read) The quote seems particularly appropriate when you consider for just a short moment the extensive gardens I have planted over the past ten years.

There is an ebb and flow to my world. One I often try to over-compensate for, or even ignore. Every time I do, I am forcibly reminded that life refuses to conform to my expectations and I, instead, must make room for it.

This is all a very long-winded way of me saying, "I want to garden, lay pathways, re-construct a retaining wall, conquer the back yards of Cottage East and Cottage West, paint the railings and balusters and porches, stain the new porches, hang more plants, and not be focused one iota on writing right now."

This means that I have pushed back the release date of Broken Code to the end of August. I am committing to a mere 500 words per day, five days a week, beginning June 6th, to work on this project. It's over halfway done, and I believe that will be enough time to get it all done. If not, I might have to extend that deadline one more time, into late September.

My writing is important, but so are a myriad of other things, and I hate feeling so conflicted. Each morning I wake up and all I want to do is go dig in the garden or indulge in a thousand other little home/yard improvements. Something has to give.

I had promised myself that this year would be different, that I would take off the spring/summer. Then I got the BookBub for Hired Gun and was scared/excited because I only had two books to offer and really wanted to capitalize on this by having Broken Code out as well. My answer to that problem was to switch from writing The Retirement Home, a medical thriller, to writing Broken Code. And unfortunately, I set a due date that was simply beyond my reach once the warm weather hit and my body and brain said, "Nope, I'm going outside now."

I know my own body and mind well enough to realize this was my sign. It just took me blundering about for a week or more, and a friend commenting "I thought you were going to take the spring and summer off" for me to accept that I needed to put off the release of Broken Code until fall.

I sat down this morning and asked the question, "Without the onus of writing each day, other than my Morning Pages (see Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way), what do I want to accomplish?"

And this is the list that came up...

  • One hour per day in the yard (minimum)

  • Yoga/stretching

  • Practice art

  • Continue learning German

  • Painting projects (our front porch and spindles), stain the new decks

  • Dust/tidy one room each day

  • Read fiction and non-fiction daily

  • Go for walks with Alex

  • Move those bricks (I have piles of them everywhere, maybe this is the year they all get dealt with!)

As you can see, I have plenty to do. I also plan on at least trying to write 500 words per day, but it won't be my top priority, other things will be. And honestly, if I can really dig in and get some of the problem areas in our yards under control, it will mean far less work next year.

Deep sigh of relief. This decision has been waiting in the wings for weeks for me to act upon. I'm glad I have made it, and I look forward to a summer spent in my garden sanctuary, making it even more of a place full of blooming delights!

As my yard transforms over the summer, and different things bloom, I'll be sure to post them here and on Facebook. Keep checking in, I think you will enjoy my posts. I'll likely include some recipes as well!

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