Recently I have been full of “blah,” even when it comes to writing. It’s hard to believe I’m tired of putting my thoughts into words, but maybe I need a break from it. I say this, and yet I’ve just planned a retreat in South Brewster County to do nothing but write for five days. The place I’m going doesn’t receive cell service and my friend has no Internet. I’ll be disengaged from outside stimuli and the things that suck up my time. I’m a social media addict who also enjoys texting and yapping on the phone, so this is the equivalent of going cold turkey. Maybe I’m just panicking because of that.
I’m the only person who says I have to write. Nobody else knows what I’m doing. I’ll be staying with a friend; she doesn’t care if I’m writing or not—except that she pushes to read the next novel. But she won’t try to beat it out of me.
Maybe I’ll just stare at the mountains, talk with her, and play with her animals. We’ll have an adventure—or at least fun—because we always do. Even when I’m not physically writing, I’m always writing in my head. More important is to refill the place out of which words come.
I’m packed and ready to go, but I need a column! It’s not as though I can write it when I get to Terlingua Ranch and send it to Alpine by carrier pigeon. So, this morning I made a “Walk for Inspiration” or more like a “Walk of Desperation” around my neighborhood.
I stopped to admire the persistent collection of wildflowers growing along a fence line by an empty field. I glanced up and a deer was bounding towards me—just one lone young doe. Dogs went crazy barking but they were fenced and I was relieved to see that nothing was chasing her.
She stopped at the edge of the vacant property and we regarded each other. I don’t know which of us was more startled. I hadn’t expected to see a deer and from her reaction, I don’t think my presence made her day. She skidded to a halt and her nose worked the cool morning air. I hoped I didn’t smell like a predator but more like a lover of wildlife, mountains, and desert air, whatever that aroma would be.
Our visitor never made direct eye contact with me but she was wary and watching. I didn’t move and after a while, she passed me on her way to wherever she was headed before I alarmed her.
I made a rash statement in an earlier column and I want to take it back. I accused my neighborhood of being dull. That’s not true, but I was panicked by having no idea what to write. I was blaming my neighborhood. Not fair.
There’s a swing set in a tiny playground at the apartments where I live. Sitting on a swing alone was a little blond-headed girl. We greeted each other and I asked her where the other kids were. She answered with a shrug.
I was going to move on, but she asked what I was doing. I told her I was walking for exercise and ideas.
“Ideas about what?”
“I need to write a column for the newspaper.”
“You write that paper?”
“No, only tiny piece of it.”
Her little face scrunched up in thought. She sighed with the effort. Then she looked up at me. “You could sit here and swing for a while.”
Leave it to a five-year-old.
I don’t need to worry about columns or where the next novel is coming from or how to finish the five I have in various stages of completion. I only need to swing for a while. That is why I’m heading south to the mountains that speak to my soul and the quiet that fills it. I’m going to go swing for a while.