Every day that I haven’t been working in a client’s garden, I’ve been revising my novel. I stay inside and sit, feeling my body spreading out in a weird, sedentary ooze. I have a Fitbit now and I feel the lack of motion, the lack of steps. What I lack in motion I make up for in neuropathy in my hands. My fingers are sometimes numb at night, a result of overworking my tendons as I weed or cut branches for clients, and then overworking my tendons as I type and delete words on my laptop. I go to sleep, making sure to tuck my hands under the blanket so they don’t get cold and more numb, and when I wake up, I take Advil and do either activity all over again. It’s not a great situation but I promise myself to rest my hands on the weekends.
These chunks of time enable me to pound this mess of scenes into a sculpture that’s recognizable as a novel. I’m accomplishing what I set out to do last summer, tell the story of a botanist who propagates a rare tree, a tree so rare and special, mysterious forces rise up to try and defeat him. But the logic still needs to be worked out, the sentences still need smoothing. The series of events need to lead into each other naturally as if this whole thing were happening in the real world. In one giant, believable motion. It’s an enormous task and I consider myself a third of the way through. A third that’s tied to later scenes and chapters. I jump around inside the scenes every day. Oftentimes, I get ideas about characters and happenings completely unrelated to what I’m working on and I have to spend a half-hour diving into a part of the book I never intended to edit. Then time gets short and I get frustrated and I have to close the laptop. I stretch my hands and do the little, wiggling exercises the doctor gave me to do. I try to relax about not finishing all that I wanted to finish that day. I put on my shoes, go outside, and take as many steps as I can around the neighborhood.