“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Leonardo Da Vinci
Last week, I discovered myself lying in my hammock on the back porch, paws in the air, hands unbusy, for about two hours.
In a moment perhaps only an astrologer could adequately explain, I had simultaneously completed several big projects:
- My ninth book
- Painting the exterior of my home
- Staining my porch
- Amending the soil in my garden
- Feng shui on the middle floor of my house
If you think that only gardening is hot, sweaty work, you’ve never written a book.
Just when you think it’s all done, there’s another detail.
The photos in my ninth book were stretched. The audiobook producer needed artwork for the cover and a word was accidentally left out of the title. The ISBN numbers were missing. I kept struggling with the U.S. government copyright website. I had about 70 photographs of me seated in black tights and white shirt holding different hand mudras and I had to sort through and accurately label each one.
Just when I thought I had driven myself totally crazy there was another fine point to nail down.
It’s always this way.
When it came to my second book, the week before publication I spent hours every evening at Office Depot faxing my way to nowhere.
Finally the Red Sea parted and the book got published on my birthday, March 25, 2013.
As human beings we have this belief we can simply manhandle our way to success.
“If I just exercise enough self discipline,” you think to yourself, “I think I can get this done.”
When it comes to books, I have come to the conclusion that these works of words are actually spiritual entities unto themselves. They will come out when they are darn well ready and not one moment sooner. Pushing and shoving make utterly no difference.
As I was slogging through the trivia of the layout, the ebook, the audiobook, the copyright and all the unsung miseries of publication, it was a true relief for me to get outside with a paintbrush and do mindless work on the exterior of my house.
After all, the outside of my house hadn’t been painted in well over 12 years. It had been on my to-do list for some time.
Just getting the paint color to match was a little victory in itself.
I kept peeling little bits off the outside of my house and kept getting informed by the sales folks at Sherwin Williams that no, I had not destroyed a big enough portion of my siding. The paint chip had to be the size of a quarter.
Every time I went back to the paint store it cost me time and money.
Finally I found peeling paint under old bricks that wasn’t also tainted with mold. The right color, the right size, I felt as if I had discovered the secret of the universe.
Gingerly placing the old paint chip in a clean white envelope I triumphantly took the remnant back to the paint store and bought seven gallons of the best possible exterior paint guaranteed to withstand rain, snow, heat and time.
I painted all the short person’s areas myself – every spot a person 5 foot 4 not very brave person on a ladder could reach.
My handyman Chris Banks fearlessly carried on where I left off.
I held the ladder for him as he painted my chimney.
He found extension poles and took a white color to the trim, a process I decided was far above my pay grade.
Once we had finished splashing a new coat of grey to the main body of the house, Chris continued with the trim while I spent days on my hands and knees staining the back deck.
In between exterior paint and deck stain I also took endless trips to ACE Hardware to purchase organic mushroom compost, cow manure and Nature’s Helper.
These I mixed into the soil in the back garden and carefully mounded the beds in the front garden after tearing out the old lettuce and violas I had planted in the fall.
You would think it might be exhausting hauling bags of soil amendments and digging through the soil but I found the entire process to be a tremendous relief – no good grammar required, no missed boxes on the US Copyright government website, no endless phone calls to editors, audiobook producers or layout people.
No worrying about not finding my endless dumb mistakes.
As luck would have it, during this time I made a routine trip to Costco for my usual berries and organic green juice only to stumble on the most beautiful rug.
When I rolled it out under my little kitchen table the effect was so stunning I went back to purchase another one to place under my dining room table nearby.
That’s the best word I can use to explain the feeling.
My Feng shui master Katherine Graham had led me through the process of renovating the second floor of my house beginning in February.
This process turned out to be more work and much more money than I had anticipated, but the results are well worth it.
“You may hate me now but you will be happy when we are done,” Katherine Graham had warned me as I lived through weeks of chaos.
And she is correct, of course.
There’s another book stirring around in me.
I already feel it, the thoughts and words are already rumbling around in my head.
Walking through my garden I can still pull a weed or two.
But for now, I can allow myself to pause.
Lying in my hammock, enjoying the feeling of being simply done for now.