Dirt as a Blank Page

I’ve been battling some health issues for the past few weeks (months, if I’m being completely honest), and I am glad to say I’m finally beginning to feel a little better. I still need to sort some things out and I still have a long, slow (always slower than I’d like) road of healing ahead of me, but it’s nice to feel the progress. Since my healing is so slow, it’s hard to tell sometimes if it’s real or only wishful thinking. Well, today I went outside. How’s that for progress? I blew bubbles for my daughter and the dog and we cleared out a few garden beds. That’s how I know this is real.

While I plucked leaves and dead basil bushes, I thought about which beds I wanted to let rest for the winter and which ones, if any, I wanted to plant. I have vague plans, nothing requiring much effort, since just going outside was an accomplishment today. Baby steps.

While my hands happily dove into the cool, dark dirt, I realized that my gardening style is a lot like my writing style. An empty box doesn’t scare me. Nor does an empty page. I know some people become paralyzed by the pressure to Do Things Right. To put the right words on the page. To plant the right seeds in the right rows at the right time. Not me.


That box of dirt up there makes me giddy. Think of all the possibilities! I can plant anything in there! Carrots, kale, snap peas . . . heck, I can plant cucumbers. Will they die in the next freeze? Yep, so I might want to think a little about what I’m planting before I waste a lot of time and effort, but if I make a mistake the world will not end. I’ll dig up the dead seedlings and plant something else there. Or not. The same with the new story I wrote during NaNoWriMo. It might be a lost cause, I don’t know yet. But if it is, I’ll deal with that. And if I can fix it with a LOT of love and care, I will.

Did I plan my little imaginary dirt squares carefully and properly space all of my seeds? Hahahaha . . . not this girl. I haphazardly spaced out some kale seeds, then I handed my kid a jar of cilantro seeds to sprinkle around like a garden fairy. I may have to thin some areas out, and I might have some empty spaces. So what? If I had sat and debated and over-planned I might never have planted anything.

And listen, I know it’s freaking late December. Yes, I know I probably should have planted sooner. But I didn’t. I can live with that. So can my little late-blooming winter garden.

Not everyone’s a wild gardener, just like not everyone likes to wing it with their new stories. That’s fine. Different personalities and different processes. But I hope the planners out there can take a minute to see the beauty in that empty page. Plant your seeds and watch them grow!


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