“I haven’t read any posts on your blog lately, are you still writing?” This question has been asked of me more than once in the past several months. I’ve asked it of myself as well, though I know the answer. No. I haven’t been writing my blog. I haven’t felt inspired, nor felt I had any ideas worthy of putting into words. Where are my stories? Do we have any stories worth telling? Of course, the more time passes, the more this creeping doubt and fear of being unable to produce grows.
What’s behind my creative slowdown since March? I’m certain it’s normal, but it has been months. I don’t want to throw in the towel. Instead I’d like to carry on sharing our adventures and misadventures. I have my list of ideas. I make little notes and observations on scraps of paper. I enjoy the connection with others when I share what I write. This blog isn’t just a summary, it is an exposition for others. Selfishly, it is also a record for Roger and me. In writing, I am offered a chance to reflect on our environment, our projects, and the very essence of what it means for us to be here at Crockern. And yet, I can’t seem to sit still and think. Is this what it means to have writer’s block?
I suspect the truth for me lays somewhere else. I have been in recovery mode since my Dad died and the year of closing of his affairs. Being his executor occupied me with so much to do, but left me no time to sit with the feelings of grief. Being busy had become my destiny and the only way I knew how to operate. Do. Do some more. Then do even more. But don’t stop and think about it.
We also lost Roger’s Mom about 6 months ago. At 91, Win lived a life full of adventure and quiet introspection. Her times at Crockern have been captured in various essays. There was her first visit to Widdicombe Fair shortly after we moved to Crockern, something she never thought she would do in her life. Bookend this with one of her last visits to Crockern on a wet and muddy December, remarking as she stepped out of the car, “This place is a dump.” We know it’s not, but we quote her regularly, particularly after extended days of wet weather.
To break through this so-called writer’s block and squash my growing belief of having nothing to document, I try everything: Go for a walk. Eliminate distractions. Engage in distractions. Change my environment. Read. Listen to music. Turn music off. Create a routine. Free oneself from the tyranny of routine. And still, nothing. What is tempting is procrastination. But my procrastination comes in the form of being busy with projects, usually work related. Stay focused and not a single drifting and uncensored thought can appear.
The house is clean. My closet has been culled. My project list for 2020 is evolving nicely. And for the first time in what seems like weeks, it isn’t raining. Today, as I put on my hat and coat heading outside with the dogs, I begin to work on the garden. It is in need of tidying. I like gardening in winter for exactly this reason. As I am clipping back dead plants, emptying pots so they don’t crack when it gets colder, clearing drains and picking up fallen branches, I noticed my mind begins to drift. Not just to making a mental note of the next thing to do, but really drift.
While I’m bent over considering how to repair a loose stone in the garden wall, Brock is busy guarding the front gate. He lays under what he must think is deep cover in order to launch a surprise attack to any dog approaching the gate. From stealth repose, he leaps up and erupts into a chorus of protective barking. As the surprised dog and its peeps move on, Brock knowingly races to the back gate, lies in wait and recommences his barking. There’s no point in trying to stop him. He sees this as his job and he intends to do it well. Meanwhile, Millie wisely lays in a spot to see if she needs to provide any support to Brock, but never letting me out of her sight. Who knows, she’s wondering perhaps I’ll take a break from gardening and take her to the river. She is keeping all options available.
High in the trees, the birds are happily singing. I stand to stretch my back to an upright position and am struck by the views.
Today the light is hazy, adding a softness to the winter golds and browns on the hillside. The grey tors of Dartmoor are in view, perfectly framed and proportioned. They make me think of John Constable paintings beautiful and brooding in equal measure. And then it hits me. The desire to sit by the fire and type away. Not for any other purpose than to simply enjoy it. I don’t have the feeling of “I better do a blog posting or give it up entirely.” No, that towel is not being thrown today. Just get on with it, there are more than a few stories yet to tell. Where to begin. There is the one about the new generator. Oh, and the radiators. The near fire. Our swanky PH regulator and UV filter for our water system. The wildflower meadow and the beginnings of our pond. Erosion. Endless pot holes. Fun adventures with friends and family, Millie and Brock, and any number of other critters about the place.
Oh there are ideas. There are the words. And there are all the distractions to get me inspired. Off to take Millie and Brock to the river.