The Lamb Ranch May 2012
My parents were confused hippies. They both served in the Navy during Vietnam, but despite being military, they grew long hair, loved rock and roll and distrusted the establishment. I think the only real holdover from their hippie days was the music. I grew up listening to Hendrix, Janice Joplin, John Lennon and all kinds of classic anti-war 60s tunes. One tune popped in my head today as I was working in the yard. Turn, Turn Turn by the Byrds which was an adaptation of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.
To everything, there is a season.
I love to work in the yard. Maybe its because I come from many, many generations of farmers (Dad’s side). I am only one generation removed from picking cotton. In fact, my grandfather is 87 years old and he still works in triple digit heat doing backbreaking work that would flatten a 20 year old. We Lambs are just hardy stock who love to get our hands dirty.
There is just nothing more meditative than spending a few hours digging in the dirt and letting the mind rest and play.
We have a family ranch that is just shy of 200 acres. I go there to rest. Of course “rest” often consists of sitting on a tractor mowing or cleaning out the seven million black widow nests in the barn or chopping up deadwood to clear the trails. But I enjoy hard work, physical work. It lets my mind have time to make sense of things.
Texas experienced record droughts last year. We experienced wildfire after wildfire. Trees, cattle and people died. This year? We have been blessed with more than enough rain, but with that rain came the 7 foot weeds I got to mow over with a tractor all last weekend. I mowed until Hubby kicked me off the tractor when the sun went down, despite my well-formed argument that we had night-vision, ergo could invent a new sport…Night Mowing!
Yeah, he didn’t go for it. I’m glad too because I slept all day the next day.
The view from the front of my John Deere. Hubby was marking the trails w/ the ATV so I’d know where to mow.
No reason for this pic other than it is totally BAD@$$! Lots of rattlesnakes and wild pigs on the ranch.
Back to our topic…
The land can’t be farmed all the time. There is a season. There is a time to plant, a time to grow, a time to harvest and a time to rest. Skip any one of these seasons and the penalty can be steep and the effects long-lasting. Writers are no different than farmers. We have seasons and we need to respect them. There will be time to write, time to edit, time to promote and time to rest.
Our brains are fertile soil for ideas, for imagination to take root and bloom and produce the good fruits of our genius. But we need to rest. In our Western culture, we are world-renowned for never resting. Yet, we are equally renowned for being morbidly obese and medicated for all kinds of psychiatric disorders. We are renowned for being frazzled, fried and stressed.
Don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I believe that a lot of psychiatric disorders are real, but many of what ails us is due to the go, go, go, go nature of modern society. For hundreds of thousands of years we humans guided our lives by the sun. Artificial light was the glow of a lamp, a fire or a candle.
Yet, now we keep awake using artificial light until the late hours of the night. We artificially wake ourselves using alarm clocks and caffeine. And when we used to sit and rest or nap, we now chug a Monster drink full of herbs we can’t pronounce so we can keep going. We take maybe a week off a year and feel guilty for even that.
It isn’t healthy.
We aren’t balanced. We wear our minds out until we are numb, but the body hasn’t moved all day. We are stressed out and tuckered out and our biggest problem is we have ignored that everything has a season.
I find it beautiful how nature is so reflective of how we should be, too. We could take a lesson. Even nature has a season of rest, of dormancy, of hibernation. The dormancy is vital for growth and for life.
When I go to the ranch it is DARK out there. We are so remote, we only have the noise of coyotes or the rattle of insects in the undergrowth. I work hard and find I go to sleep earlier, sleep deeper, rise with the sun and feel actually rested. I always come home with a new explosion of creativity.
Yet, I still have to remind myself to rest. Just sit. Relax. Don’t…do…anything. Harder than it looks.
I love writers, and I will be the first to kick you in your tails to get you moving (I kick my own tail, too). But today my lesson is different, yet equally important. Take time to rest. To sleep. To just “be.” Go all zen wit’ yuhself!
There is no easy way to success in what we do. Whether we traditionally publish or indie or self-publish, there are NO shortcuts. Publishing success is a lot of work. Those who will succeed are the ones who can do this writing thing day, after day, after day, after day, who can keep blogging and tweeting and writing books and more books and more books even when it looks like nothing is happening. I have been blogging for three and a half years and have almost 800,000 words invested into my career. But I keep showing up, and keep showing up, no matter what.
We have to have endurance to be successful at writing. Whether you listen to Barry Eisler, Joe Konrath, Bob Mayer, Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory, James Rollins or Sandra Brown, they will all tell you the same story. Success took work, years of it.
To have this kind of endurance, we need to get good at resting. And I will tell you, as I have a finger pointed at you, three are pointing back at me. I need a lot of these lessons, too so if you don’t need them, I’ll take them. If I hope to be on top of my game, to keep the word count I keep and do all the things I do and take WANA to the next level (more on that next week), I need to be well rested.
I can’t over-farm the soil. I need to let my mind and my imagination rest.
Lately, I have thrown a lot of intense and deep (and, yes, long) blogs out there. I have so much more to do and say, but I need to rest. I am teaching three classes at the DFW Writers’ Workshop Conference this coming weekend. Please sign up if you haven’t already. This is a WONDERFUL conference and they actually are a very forward-thinking group. They gave me my first break to teach social media and I don’t believe I would be where I am today without them. They are an amazing group and have THE best workshops.
Anyway, conferences are a lot of work and also this surprise I am working on for all of you is a lot of work. So I need a break. I am taking a week off from blogging, so you won’t hear from me (blog-wise) until Wednesday of next week.
Might give y’all a chance to catch up on the recent posts, LOL. Been throwing a lot at you guys, I know. But times are changing and it is all happening so quickly. I work my tail off to make sure you guys are prepared, that you are educated so you can enjoy this Digital Renaissance.
I am taking a few of my closest peeps out to the ranch. No cell phones. No blogs. Just talking, laughing and maybe even get a bit of a tan. Tan fat totally looks better than white fat. I will miss you guys, but you need some rest too.
I will also announce the winners of my contest when I get back.
But, I still love hearing from you. Do you feel guilty about resting? Does taking a vacation make you feel guilty? have you found ways to overcome this? Do you feel like you must always be productive and you wear yourself out?
To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of May I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
***IMPORTANT MESSAGE–For those who have not gotten back pages. My web site fiasco has been responsible for eating a lot of e-mails. Additionally I get about 400 e-mails a day and the spam folder has a healthy appetite too. It is hard to tell since some people never claim their prize, but I could have very well just not seen your entry. Feel free to e-mail it again and just put CONTEST WINNER in the header so I can spot you easily. (especially if your message is kidnapped by the spam filter).
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.