Finish Fatigue

So I’m on the final page of my novel, just a few more lines to write.  So why can’t I write them?

Sure, I’ve lived with this story for the last few years and I am sure I will spend the better part of a year revising it.  I know it’s not over, but I can’t seem to finish it.

The finality of the first draft has me second guessing everything in the chapter.  My brain is already working on the next novel (taking a break from this draft before the next one).  Every morning I open up the Word doc, fiddle over some slight correction and then proceed to goof off, watch TV or play a video game, anything but write.

This fatigue coincides with the summer slowdown in the garden.  I spent hundreds of hours prepping the garden and getting it up and going only to half-way abandon it now that it doesn’t need constant attention.  I know I need to prune my tomato plants, harvest the cucumbers early to make pickles and cut back the blackberry canes before they grow over the roofline (too late).  I just don’t have the energy.  That’s not true.  I just don’t have the motivation.

Writing and gardening are not activities that we do when the mood strikes us.  It has to be a regular thing or else our stories dry up and our gardens are overrun with weeds.

When I get fatigued in either project it helps to do something, anything.  In writing, this blog gives me the extra push I need to keep on writing.  In gardening, I finish something, anything.  In this case, I made some blackberry jam.  It’s ridiculously easy to do.  Now I have finished writing something and I have enough jam for the winter I have a sense of accomplishment that urges me to do a little more.

Quitting is so easy to do, but so is finishing a small thing.  Hauling in a big harvest gives that sense of accomplishment that finishing a good story does.  And with that comes a different sort of fatigue.  It’s that kind of tired that precedes a long and satisfying sigh followed by a 12 hour nap.  Can’t we all use that kind of finish fatigue?


First Draft

So I’m at the end of my first draft, just a few pages left.  Now that I have the whole novel nearly complete I can clearly see all the mistakes and ways to correct them.

Now, I could have stopped the first draft months ago, before finishing the last third of the novel.  I could have started the second draft when I knew the first one was a mess.  I could have saved a lot of time wrapping this up and got a head start on the next version.  A tempting proposition and hard to ignore.

Before I started gardening, I would have done just that.  I’ve got three novels that I abandoned two thirds of the way through because I decided I needed a better opening or a different POV.  But in a garden, nothing short of a catastrophic fungal infection will cause me to abandon a planting, and even then I’ll hold on until the bitter end.

Take my salad tower for instance:

salad tower 1

Salad tower May 2013, pretty ain’t it.

This was my first attempt at vertical growing.  A simple tower make of copper pipes with canvas shoe trees hanging off it.  With 24 pouches per tree, this tower can grow 96 separate plants.  Oh, how I had visions of harvesting fresh leaf lettuce and baby spinach every day.  But that didn’t work out like I expected.

By the end of July, with nearly daily downpours the canvas is spotted with mold on the front and back.  I have gotten a few leaves of baby spinach and leaf lettuce, but only enough for omelets or sandwiches.

salad tower 2

Salad Tower  July 2013

A lot went wrong with this tower.  Hot and wet weather combined with canvas pouches made a perfect environment for mold.  Trying to start from seed in the pouches was an act of futility, nothing germinated except for the black beans and the chickpeas that grow but haven’t produced.

Next year we will try felt pouches or even woven polyester.  Maybe I’ll replace the soil with a growth medium and install a watering system.  Probably both.  But for now, we will see what the fall will produce.  Who knows, it might dry out and we’ll get a huge harvest off it.  There is no way of knowing how things will turn out for this project except to see it until the end.

I never really expected this to turn out perfect the first year out, just as I never expected my current novel to be a perfect work right off the bat.  Both require a lot of work, patience and experimentation for any real fruit to develop.  And unless I continue to water and care for the tower, just like I worry away at my novel, I’ll never get a second try until I complete the first draft.

Dirt Cheap



First, I must apologize for the long absence.  The garden takes half my free time and finishing my novel has taken the rest of it.  I am on the last chapter, finally and will be wrapping it up in a few days.  Meantime, I want to address something my sister brought up.

Looking around the garden, and noticing all the extra bags of mulch, topsoil, garden soil, potting mix, compost manure, etc.. she asked a question that I am sure you have asked yourself.

“Why do all those store keep that stuff outside?  Aren’t they concerned someone will steal it?”

It’s a legitimate question.  I see piles of that stuff outside hardware stores, grocery stores, even gas stations.  It’s not always about the large amount of space the dirt and mulch takes up.  Stores can secure that stuff if they really want to.

It’s really about the people who buy that stuff.   People like me.  Homeowners who don’t mind pine bark and pearlite spilled in the back seat.  People who don’t just garden to make a free salad, but want to add a little beauty to the form and function of their garden.  Sure I could buy cheaper mulch to spread around the base of my fruit trees, but I cough up the extra buck a bag for stuff that won’t fade out in a month.

People like that, like me, we don’t steal dirt.

Dirt is cheap, so is mulch, manure and all the lot.  It would take a moving van and a team of four to steal enough to surpass the misdemeanor stage.

Besides, how would it look, getting caught stealing dirt?  You can’t sell it.

“Psst, hey buddy.  I got some dirt, real cheap.”

“Hands in the air, this is the Manure Patrol.  You’re under arrest.”

“Manure patrol huh?  That must be a crappy job.”

Store are not concerned that everyone will steal their crap, but new writer are.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I see someone’s story on a review board with a homemade copyright blurb at the end.  I did the same thing when I first started out, afraid that everyone would steal my little gems and make a fortune off of them.

Sure, plagiarism still happens.  But that’s for lawyers to fight over.  Putting ‘copyright’ at the beginning or end of a piece only does not protect you from theft any more than not putting it there.  By posting a work on many public sites, the author gives up their rights.  Look at the small print.

The truth is, a writer retains the copyright to all of their works until they sell it or give it away.  Putting a blurb on a piece only shows ones naiveté, so stop it.  Your stories are worth about as much as the bags of mulch I buy.  No respectable editor or publisher is going to steal your work.  If your stuff is good enough to steal, it’s good enough to pay for.

For now, your work like my own, is dirt cheap.