And then I can put my cat o\’nine tails down and get back to writing. The cat o\’nine tails is the implement with which I castigate myself for processing vegetables instead of words. I do this all day long, every day, and it is getting old.
But what can I do? There is a loud litany of edible stuff–eggplants, tomatoes, beans, greens, broccoli–in fauve-bright purple, red, orange, and green, right there before my eyes, every hour of every one of these bright-blue, crisp September days (the optimism and energy of which will be forever tinged with sadness, as with a touch of premature frost).
Unlike ripe vegetables, thoughts and words do not compel me to go do something about them right away. They are not red, purple, orange or green, but basic, boring black. They can wait…or so it seems.
Everything that I\’ve ever read or been told about writing tells me that this isn\’t true. Words can\’t wait. Use it or lose it. Nulla die sine linea–not a day without a line, Horace advised. How many times have I heard that this, the inability to write every day (or paint, or compose) because of interruptions by children, spouses or gardens, is the reason there aren\’t more women writers, painters, composers?
But I remember Tasha Tudor, the illustrator and writer and gardener who enacted a 19th century way of life just over the mountain from here until she died recently in her tenth decade. She used to say that she only painted in the winter, after the garden was done. I wonder if she felt guilty about that?
But I don\’t think she felt guilty about anything much. She raised four children on her own, wrote and illustrated dozens of books, made puppets and put on shows, and once grew a shirt from seed (she planted the flax, harvested it, processed it somehow, and wove it into cloth which she then cut and sewed into a shirt).
So to whom should I listen–Horace or Tasha? What would you do?