“Timing is everything,” my garden whispered to me a few weeks ago.
It was somewhere between late winter and early spring. I had a few drifts of yellow from early blooming daffodils and forsythia, and a sprinkling of pansies in pots. But I wanted more color when I looked out at my garden, and I wanted it NOW.
I hadn’t done the groundwork, though. The color I craved at this time of year could only come from bulbs, and I had been too lazy to plant more of them last fall.
It was too early in the season to plant tender annuals (I had lost enough flowers–and money–over the years to Virginia’s early spring frosts).
The perennials were only just beginning to emerge from the topsoil. It would be weeks, if not months, before their first blooms took the stage.
I would simply have to be patient. In the meantime, I would pull the weeds, clear out the dead stuff to make room for the new stuff, and work the soil into a loamy, fertile cradle for new plantings.
Planting a Flower or Writing a Book: There’s a Right Time and a Wrong Time
When I launched this blog 10 months ago, it was to be a tandem project with a book I had just started to write, working title Feng Shui Animal House: Raking Sand in the Midst of the Chaos.
If you’ve been following the blog from the start, you’ll have seen the draft back cover copy and even an excerpt or two. The memoir chronicles how an unexpected spiritual awakening following my bout with breast cancer set the stage for a complete mind/body/soul transformation.
Navigating such a transformation in a chaotic, testosterone-driven household with two eye-rolling teenaged sons underfoot is what makes the story funny and, I hope, interesting enough to be worth the reader’s time.
The blog was intended to be the testing ground to hone my ideas and experiment with writing styles. Marketing gurus also recommend blogging as a means to expand your readership in advance of a book launch.
I was reluctant to start the blog, since I automatically resist things people tell me I’m “supposed” to do. (My sons were appalled to learn recently that I wore a tuxedo to my senior prom.)
Blogging turned out to be much more fun and rewarding than I ever expected. Where else can you have complete freedom to write about your inspirations and have such direct and thought-provoking interaction with your readers?
Why It’s Premature to Write This Book
But there was a problem.
I found I was uncomfortable blogging about my kids, the source of some of the best material for the book. I wanted to respect their privacy and not take advantage of them.
At the same time, the role they play in my spiritual journey and mindfulness practice is an essential part of the story (I think of them as two Yodas wearing soccer cleats, but they cringe when I say things like that).
I checked out some mom blogs and saw that some writers use aliases for their kids. I tried that, even letting the boys help choose their pseudonyms–Troy and Max.
It just never felt right to me, though. I’m baring my soul in these blog posts, being as honest as I can about EVERYTHING (even the reconstruction boob job). The boys’ fake names stopped me in my tracks every time.
What did that mean? Was it just the issue of their names, or was I not ready to write about my kids in general?
It dawned on me that I needed to earn their trust before outing them. I wanted them to feel secure that I wasn’t going to use them, disrespect them, belittle them, or make jokes at their expense. My goal is to draw out the universal lessons from our experience, not turn my kids into caricatures.
I broached the subject over dinner not too long ago. I shared my dilemma, and asked a little sheepishly if they were comfortable with me using their real names. When they both said “yes,” I felt humbled, grateful, and a deep sense of responsibility.
So I’m sitting with those feelings for now. I’ve been given the green light, but I still don’t feel quite ready to dive in full force. I’ll start by simply reintroducing my boys to you.
I’ll leave it at that for now and hope that the full disclosure will set that part of my writing free.
But the fact is, we’re still in the thick of things on the home front. All of us are changing and evolving every day. Capturing the experience on paper is like trying to grasp very wet sand. It may be a while before I can get hold of a piece solid enough to mold into book material.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to use the blog as a testing ground. And there may even be another book that’s supposed to be written before Feng Shui Animal House (thanks, Bill Apablasa, for planting that idea in my head).
As With My Garden, So With My Writing
My garden has taught me many things, including (in Gertrude Jekyll’s words), “patience and careful watchfulness” and “entire trust.”
That book will write itself, but maybe not this year.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of groundwork to do:
- I will stay watchful (and take notes and write blog posts).
- I will pull weeds (and sort strong ideas from weak ones).
- I will prune dead branches (and cut out weaker writing and flawed concepts).
- I will fertilize the soil (and nurture my mind, body and soul).
Your feedback and input along the way would be such a gift. Thanks for keeping me grounded, my friends.