Usually, when I’m having trouble moving ahead with a novel, I use a variation of Natalie Goldberg’s cafe writing that she shared in WRITING DOWN THE BONES. But yesterday, I decided that I wanted to write on patio of our backyard garden while our waterfall splashed and gurgled in the background. I brought coffee. (I’d trained myself to think of coffee as part of the writing process.) I managed to handwrite about four pages of text. I was just about to put my two characters in a room together even though they didn’t seem to have much to say to each other–not even when I meditated on their relationship while mowing the lawn.
At that point, I noticed that a flowering crab tree needed a bit of water. It was part of the garden installation and didn’t quite have the root system to support itself. I noticed some weeds, so I pulled them. They came up easily after the thunderstorm. So I pulled more weeds as well as bit of grass that were growing where they didn’t belong. Believe it or not, I avoided writing the scene that refused to be written for at least an hour. By then, it was time to get going on my students’ manuscripts. This reinforced the advantages of cafe writing with its absense of distractions. But I went out again this morning to my own garden. No chores awaited me. And the words came.