It is my second day of chicken-sitting. I had to go to bed an hour early to get up two hours early. With the mist still rising from the ground and leaves scattered on the sandstone pathways from last night’s brief rain, I wound my way through Beth’s garden to the chicken pen.
As I changed the water, spread fresh greens, and emptied a scoop of chicken feed into the dish, I heard the reassuring sound of clucks and murmurs as the hens awoke. Then, in a demanding shout of sound, the rooster announced it was time to greet the day. He was the first to exit down the wooden ramp and took the first peck at the feed.
It occurred to me as I walked back toward the house that writing is a lot like tending chickens. I have to get up two hours early to feed words onto the hungry pages and I have to settle my writer at sunset into my cozy little casita to be ready to rise before dark. It is a tending that I do in order to harvest the eggs of creative output. Yet the tending itself has a certain quality of comfort in and of itself.
It has taken me many years to settle my creative chickens, to learn what works best for me and when. In my twenties I was a night person. Being a young mother meant I had no predictable chunk of energy and had to grab moments when I could. I learned to carry a legal pad with me at all times and to write anywhere and everywhere. From this era I learned to write at the drop of the hat and that writer’s block was an indulgence.
When my nest was empty and I went back to school, I learned to write in long chunks of time I carved out of my weekends. Because I was in a writing program and had the permission of school and its structure, I gained stamina and learned the joy of a long expanse of hours.
Now, my degree behind me, I am back in the work world of a nine to five job. It is the hub of my day, this lovely job. Yet, I have to work around it as a novelist and artist. So, I am finding the “early to bed, early to rise” wheel of cultivation works right now.
In my long life of farming the creative crops of art and writing, I find that Rooster Early is what works best for the crop of writing. I start with a brain uncluttered by lists and rational thought. I follow a night rich with dreams where my subconscious stirs up interesting words and images. And I pluck the words like warm eggs fresh from the nest of my cozy bed. Yes, today, my chickens are laying well. And its all because I get up that extra two hours early just as my inner rooster crows.