Yesterday I cut the yard. It took about an hour and a half and was completely uneventful. Well, until the very end when I stormed a black widow’s lair with a rake and a bottle of spider poison. I didn’t find her but the old trashcan she’d built her web is doused in spider poison now.
I don’t know what’s worse though, finding her or not finding her…
Anyway, I have always hated cutting the yard. It messes with my allergies, it’s hard work, and I’d rather be doing other things. Down in my part of the country, it’s almost never cool, especially when the lawn needs a mowing. More often than not it’s humid to boot. Last night it was around ninety degrees, which was pretty cool actually.
Over the past year or so though, I’ve really come to appreciate it. I have my best ideas when I am doing something monotonous and boring. Going back in forth in the yard, I always fall into a rhythm and find myself thinking about my books. The last few times have always ended with a new plot point or something else figured out. It usually happens driving back and forth to work too.
Last night I created a whole world in the Aether for the second novel. I’d already created it once while writing, but I never really liked it. It was a placeholder that I whipped together and I’d hoped it would grow on me. It never did and worse, this is where I’ve been stuck in the story. I use placeholders all the time, but a placeholder for a setting has really holding me back.
After I got done with the yard, I came in and wrote down everything I had thought of. The world, its rules, culture, idiosyncrasies, meaning, etc. Then I moved on to more detail, character’s reactions, what could possibly happen here, things like that. That led into the plot, which is where I was having my real problem with things. A thousand words later, and I think I’ve got this part of the story worked out.
Even more important, I am excited. I am excited to put this to paper. The wife and son are still out of town, so that’s what I’m planning to do tonight.
Sometimes it’s just funny what a chore can produce. So many people, and I have always been one of them, think you need wide open space to get a running start. That you need to be in the right emotional state, need to feel exactly right, at the exact time you want, with more than enough time to get it done, with your Muse perched right on your shoulder. That everything needs to be perfect. I still let myself think that, but it’s not true.
You are a writer, but more than likely it is only a portion of your life, probably a small portion too. Just how writing makes you the person you are and can play into the rest of your life, so too can the rest of your life play into your writing. I’m not even talking inspiration here, just mentality. A couple years ago I would have seen this chore, this tedium, as something that kept me from writing. It would also serve as a good excuse not to write. Now, I know if I hadn’t mowed the yard, I’d still be struggling with this idea.