Mowing, Moving, Merchandising and Other Non-Writing Activities Starting with the Letter M

I’ve been very neglectful in my posting duties as of late, but as no one is reading this . . . *shrug*

Not that I haven’t had good reasons for my relative silence beyond nobody reading. I have. The fam and I have moved over the past month fifteen minutes up the road from where we were living in our endless pursuit of air conditioning, better schools, and less driving. Right now, the house is wall to wall boxes, with little winding footpaths through the rooms to the various points of interest like the bathrooms. You never know how much crap you have until you have to pack it all up and move it somewhere else. For more on this, read the late George Carlin’s rant entitled “Stuff”. I gots lots of stuff. Add to that the time-burning rigors of the day job and it’s hard to find as much time as I would like for writing.

The house we moved from had many problems with it. For starters, the air conditioning barely worked, leaving it unable to drop the living room below 80 or so degrees during the summer. On days like today when you’re dealing with a triple digit heat index, A/C is a handy thing to have. Not only does the new house have air conditioning, it has insulation to keep the cool air in and the warm air out, something the other house also lacked. Of course, the new house also has a bigger yard, reminding me of something this house, nice though it is, lacks in comparison to the old one–someone to mow the grass.

At the old house, a little man named Moe would come by periodically and just mow the grass (prompting me to wonder if he changed his name to Rake in the fall or Shovel in the winter). He wouldn’t charge anything, seeming to do it to pass the time. We would repay him the way we repay most everybody–with food–but he seemed perfectly content to mow the grass and move on to greener, more overgrown pastures. For the past two years, I haven’t had to bother with that particular chore.

Now, we got no Moe no mo.

I went out and bought a lawnmower, having left my old one in Kentucky when we moved to Tennessee, and set about mowing the grass. To my delight, with an audiobook loaded into the mp3 player, I found that I actually enjoyed the task. It reminded me of the time when I was struggling to finish my first novel length manuscript, hypnotizing myself with Stephen King’s On Writing while I trimmed the root-strewn, swampy grass of our old house in the Bluegrass.

Mowing, and any other mundane task that comes with the daily trudge through life, is a great thing for writing. When I’m performing some sort of routine task, it allows me a great, mostly uninterrupted stretch of time to think about my writing–to prepare for what I’m writing that day, to mull over any difficulties I’m having with the story, to come up with new ideas for future stories. The same goes with doing the dishes, folding laundry, and many other little jobs around the house, giving me time to dip into the story well and take a long drink.

I’ve also had time to think over my most recent rejection, the first one for a full manuscript request. The agent said that she loved the characters and the story overall, but she basically didn’t think she could sell it in such a crowded market. Of course, there was a bit of disappointment from this reject, but I’m more focused on the silver lining. The story idea, over which I have little control, may be a tough sell, but the writing, over which I have complete control, is good enough to be published. This is a great and motivating affirmation as I keep going with my work-in-progress. Also, I still haven’t given up on seeing Dead and Dying in print. Far from it. I still have two more agents reading the full manuscript and several more on my list of agents to query. If anything, I feel more confident about being published now than I did before the rejection.

So, for anyone having trouble with their writing, my advice today is to go mow the grass. If you are in the position I was of having someone else to mow your grass, or if you don’t have grass to mow, then go mow someone else’s. Be someone’s Moe (or Rake or Shovel). Find something to do that will help yourself or others, something that you can do automatically, and use that time to plan your writing or work out the tough details that are holding you up. Even if you don’t end up with a great idea for a novel, you’ll at least have a pretty lawn.

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About Lee Smiley

I write things. Maybe you'll read them.
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