I spent last weekend away from my computer. I didn’t respond to the emails stacking up in my in-box. I didn’t check Facebook and like, like, like post after post. I didn’t blog or tweet or scroll.
Instead, I laid down a drop cloth on the back lawn and spray painted a bedside table white. And then I spray painted an old-fashioned metal milk jug and a crock that I’ve thought about donating to the Goodwill. I decided to keep it; I like it white.
While those dried in the May breeze, I wiped the pollen off the patio table, swept the cement free of oak tree seedlings, refilled the oriole and finch feeders, and cut the biggest bouquet of white peonies ever known to humankind. I arranged the blooms in my mother-in-law’s vase and placed it on the dining room sideboard in front of the window. Within an hour, the whole first floor of my house was filled with the scent of peony.
I played Sorry! with Rowan on the back patio while the chickadees and nut hatches flitted in the birch tree overhead. I rode my bike with Noah to Shopko to check out a dehumidifier on sale, and then took the long way home, wending through the neighborhoods, admiring the way the cottonwood leaves swished and sizzled in the wind.
In short, I did a whole lot of nothing. I puttered in my yard, which is among my favorite things to do. I rested my brain and moved my body and let my mind wander. I reminded myself that there’s more to life, a whole lot more, than social media shares and clicking “publish.”
I published my first blog post on July 27, 2009, nearly seven years ago. Since then I’ve written here regularly, two to three times a week (when I first started I wrote five days a week – egad!). I’ve also written three books, the third of which I just finished editing, and 84 columns for the Lincoln Journal Star. Now that I’ve largely finished Katharina and Martin, I’ve been asked, more than once, “So what’s next? Do you have another book in mind?”
My honest answer is, I don’t know.
“I feel like I’ve written everything I have to say,” I heard myself say to my mom recently. I’ve been wrestling with writer’s block and creative ennui. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know what book I might want to write. I don’t even know what blog post I want to write.
Amid all the questions with no answers, one thing is clear: It’s time for a break. My boys are out of school and on break, and we’re traveling more than usual this summer. Instead of making myself crazy, I’ve decided to let some of the writing go.
The good news is, I have a group of delightful, talented writers to introduce you to in June. These are people whose work I love and respect, and I am excited for you to get to know them, too, if you don’t already.
I’ll also continue my Spiritual Habits series on Tuesdays throughout the month of June.
But other than that, it’s time to refill the well – to clip fragrant bouquets from the garden; to pedal aimlessly in the shade of cottonwood trees; to walk barefoot across sun-warmed cement; to paint furniture and read mystery novels and slice strawberries and water the basil.
It’s time to remind myself that I do indeed have a life worth writing about. But in order to do that, I have to live it first.