The Writing Life: Berry Picking

Berry_fruit_fruits_241170_lWhen you're a writer (or any kind of creative person) you link everything back to your writing.  At least I do, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.  It's the nature of the creative process to become a sponge for everything around you.  This is particularly true when you're in the middle of a long-term project.

Lately, part of my writing life has included berry picking.  We drive out to the berry farm on nearby Sauvie Island, the same farm where my son and daughter-in-law got married three years ago, and pick marionberries, raspberries and boysenberries, then bring them home and either freeze them or make jam.  I spent most of last Saturday making jam, so come on over if you need some for your sandwiches.

Since I was making jam on Saturday, I wasn't writing.  And therein lies the crux of a dilemma: do I spend my free time writing or my free time doing fun things like berry picking?  For years, the answer to this for me has been writing, hands down.  And, it still is. 

Partly this is a matter of choice.  As I've recently realized, nothing has held the same consistent interest for me over the years as writing.  My interest in cooking waxes and wanes, and, though I love crafts, especially those of the fiber variety, I'm an on and off partaker.  Because, most of the time I'd truly rather be writing.  While this has its upside for word count, it has a downside for things like clean houses, nutritious meals and interest in the kinds of things that normal people talk about.

Partly, though, I think that the writing bug gets inside you and won't let go, like a virus that cannot be eradicated.  For instance, I live with the constant internal exhortation: you could be writing, you
should be writing, you would be writing if only you were more
disciplined.  I sometimes wonder what it must be like to be a person who is engaged in creative activity and thus doesn't feel the constant pull to be working. 

On the upside, I haven't been bored in the last 5,000 years.

But then there's the question: does all this focus on writing make Charlotte a dull girl?  (You could ask my family and friends–no, don't!  I don't want to hear the answer. )  It's the age old question: do you spend time writing or go out in the world and find something to write about?

I did the latter this weekend, and enjoyed the Zen quality of berry picking, the bees buzzing about the fruit, the taste of the berries when I just had to pop one in my mouth, and the sun beating down on my scratch-covered arms.  (I wrestled with a few raspberry bushes.)  And when I got home, I loved the alchemy of turning berries into jam, using pectin and sugar.

And, I found something to write about.

Photo by yohanl.