I live an all or nothing kind of life. I’m either working on a novel, or I’m recovering from having just written a novel. Or am dying under the edits of yet another novel. The same is true for how I have spent my summer.

I wrote only in June and July. I have taken August completely off. That’s because owning my new home has consumed me. And now that I’m feeling the cool stirrings of fall in the air, I understand that my approach to life nets results, but certainly comes at a price.

Even if I had wanted to write more than just entries in my journal this past week, I wouldn’t have been able to. My right hand kept going numb. Pins and needles, completely useless kind of numb. That’s because I spent up to 6 hours a day using an ax and a mattock to pull the root system out of the hill on my property.

The work was grueling, and painstakingly slow, but the result is a piece of land that with only a little more work (chainsaw those big stumps) will be an unbelievable place for sleigh riding in the winter and should produce beautiful wild flowers in the spring.


Note the hand pulled roots below O_o

But it’s more than just that I wanted a little more yard and a way to escape writing for a month. ¬†It’s that I wanted to give it my all. I wanted to move into my new home and make it just that. My wife has better design sense than I ever will, so she set to work on the interior. Which left me the option of being lazy or being productive for August. Being lazy doesn’t really work for me.

Yet, last night, when I sat down after having spent most of the day picking up from our incredibly successful house warming party on Saturday, I realized my feet weren’t just sore, they were puffy. Really puffy. With a night’s sleep they’ve gotten better, but I’m taking the arm and foot fatigue as a sign that’s it’s time for me to stop being consumed by my home, and to enjoy these last days of summer.



My dogs enjoying the party ūüôā

Which is smart, but which also means that soon I will be consumed by teaching and writing. At least those jobs do not need an ax and a mattock. Well, literally speaking¬†ūüėČ

But they do come with their own challenges, and their own consuming demands. As will my home with a change in season. But it’s worth it. All of it.

So as the real New Year begins for so many of us and our children, good luck with your own consuming lives. They’re worth every ounce of energy you can give them.


Single-mindedness, summer, and a new home

The view out of my new house, looking at my former home.

The view out of my new home, looking at my former house.

For the past 18 days I haven’t written anything besides to do lists.¬†My life has been nothing but projects around my new house, and attempts to enjoy the remainder of summer. And I couldn’t be happier.

My hands are sore as I type this, cut and swollen from the enormity of black locust weeds I’ve cleared. My back and legs and arms are sore from dragging limbs, from cutting, from stooping and crouching. But it’s that good pain that comes from work that results in accomplishment.

What my hill looked like up close.

What my hill looked like up close.

How the black locust looked at the edge of the pool

How the black locust looked at the edge of the pool

Locust throns

Locust thorns

This is all a¬†kind of a misnomer for me. I’m not handy. I don’t have a green thumb. Many people are shocked at the “manliness” I’ve exuded with this new house. People think of me more in my usual repose, reading, writing, telling stories.

But writing is hard work. It’s a grueling, sometimes nasty daily exercise that has prepared me for the pain I currently feel. I have this tendency to dive so deep into my work that nothing else matters. Nothing else is even visible. In the three weeks leading up to our closing, I did just this, all day long. I wrote for 4-6 hours and then the rest of the day as I packed, never once did I stop ¬†thinking about the story.¬†I forgot to eat, to shave, to remember to be human.

That skill set is not “manliness”. It’s not even OCD, as my wife affectionately tells me. It is single-mindedness. It is an ability to block it all out. To forget everything in search of one pursuit. It is a trait that can destroy, but it is also one that can produce phenomenal results.

Fortunately for me, I’m at the tail end of summer. I soon have to switch that focus off my home and back to work. ¬†And that is wonderful. Because even though I don’t have a book coming out this year, I already have three events lined up for the fall, and one in the spring. I’ll also be busy with the next round of revision for LOOK PAST, and whatever I must do with my other novels and their various states.

But right now I’m thinking about my lawn, and how it needs to be mowed, and a drainage pipe I might install, and what the hill will look like in the winter, and sleigh riding. And so yes, I have a lot on my plate, and miles to go before I sleep.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aftermath of my work

Aftermath of my work