Sunday, February 13, 2022

Moving rocks around my yard

is like revising a piece of writing. Or rather, I guess I should say, revising a piece of writing is like moving rocks around my yard. I don't know how to talk about the writing process except by comparing it to some other activity, otherwise it sounds like this: I wrote a thing. I took it apart. I put it back together. Let me tell you about the rocks instead.

What happened was we moved into our new-old house and there was a koi pond in the backyard and we didn't want a koi pond in the backyard. Like all of the projects in our new-old house, taking out the koi pond ended up being a much bigger deal than I would've imagined at the start of-- let's call it the "Envisioning Stage." 

What I envisioned was not a koi pond but an herb garden. I thought it would take an afternoon, maybe two, to give away the fish, drain the water, empty out the rocks, fill the hole up with dirt and plant herbs. If it's not obvious yet, I was a ding dong. 

The actual process was longer and messier and possibly caused long term damage to my shoulder joints. It was the rocks that nearly did me in. My initial plan was to move them out of the way slightly, just enough to get at the rubber liner underneath. Cut away the lining and nudge the rocks back into the hole. 

But the hole went down so deep and there were so many layers of rocks. Some were more like boulders. Some were the size of gravel. Some was sand. Lots of sand. And where the hell was the liner? Several days into the project, without realizing it, I'd created a precarious wall of rocks just outside the mucky former koi pond, and there I was in the center, still digging in the mud. 

To avoid an avalanche on myself, I started moving the rocks into the driveway, first just to get them out of the way, but later, in an attempt to see what I had. How many rocks were there? What were their various sizes and shapes? A few of the rocks were interesting. Maybe I'd want to keep them for some future gardening project? Cut to: I lost myself in a several-weeks-long digression of rock organization. 

Winter came. 

The hole filled up with rain and froze, the rocks still piled up in the driveway. I was sick of looking at them. In spring I thought I might be ready to try again, but the weather was sucky. It rained a lot. Or I'd have to work. On a rare, free, weather-cooperating day, I'd climb into the hole and chuck out a rock or two, but my heart wasn't really in it. The project was starting to seem stupid. 

And then we had a global pandemic, and I needed something to think about besides the global pandemic. Why not finish digging up the remainder of the damn rocks? Cut out the liner and shove everything back in once and for all. It took a good month in which I swore a lot and pinched my fingers and scraped my legs and tried to ignore the disturbing-sounding pops and creaks emanating from my shoulder joints. 

When I was finished, a friend from work brought me herb clippings from her garden, and we stood awkwardly facing each other while properly socially distant in my driveway. The garden surprised me by taking off on its own, the small clippings rooting and spreading out to fill the space and beyond. Sometimes I sit out on the patio and try to remember the hole, the rocks-- all of that raw hard work, but truthfully, it's kind of a blurry memory, thank God. 

Anyway, this is the long way of saying that I'm halfway (who am I kidding? I'm not anywhere near halfway! Haha!) into the revision of a writing project, and all I can see in front of me are the rocks, but whatever. 

If moving rocks has taught me anything, it's that if I keep digging through them and flinging them around, eventually I'll end up with a lovely herb garden. 

The end. 


(This is where I am now) 

(The future)

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