Life has become more highly ritualised now that production of my doctoral creative artefact – my permaculture travel memoir – has begun to ramp-up.
In the morning, it goes like this…
5am or 5:30am rise. Empty potty (it’s too far to walk outside to the composting loo during the night). Get dressed. Wash face. Boil kettle. Pick fresh sprigs of mint; dodge bees drinking from flowers; brew pot of mint tea. Simultaneously brew a fresh cafetiere of coffee… carry both into the writing studio, place them on the heat-proof ceramic tile on my desk. Back to the kitchen to fetch a mug.
How can I impress upon you the importance of choosing the right mug? Which one today? So much depends upon it – the success of the written word.
Shall I choose this one or that? The green, or the midnight blue Japanese mug… the mottled, sandy-coloured oldies that came with the house… or my favourite, the cream-coloured Korean mug with the picture of the purple and yellow plums on the side?
Three to four hours of generating ‘fresh’ words. I call this process ‘seeding’. It’s how I flesh out the narrative and get words down on paper.
Usually about 1 hour, during which I undertake a combination of the following: wash dishes (whilst listening to Margaret Throsby’s midday interview); make bed; browse the garden; eat lunch; prepare the evening meal.
Afterwards I resume work for another 2-3 hours. Time to edit the ‘old’ work I produced last week during my ‘seeding’ sprees. I call this part ‘weeding’, though sometimes it’s more like turning over the compost, trying to make the various elements disperse and break down more evenly. Integrate. Obtain a fine tilth. A perfect growing medium.
The final hour is of gentler, less intensive work. Sometimes it’s note-taking from secondary texts I’m working with: travel memoirs; natural histories; permaculture handbooks; or ethnographies… This is the most brain-dead part of the day, reserved for things like notetaking or backing-up.
Eventually, it’s time to finish. How to break the intensity of the day?
I try to leave the studio neat and tidy for tomorrow. Coming into an orderly space helps. I neaten the piles of books, pages, pens, drafts and drafts of drafts. They’re piling up. Soon I’ll have to confront them and file them away. When the doctorate is over I’ll probably mulch the garden with the seeding pages. I’ll be eating my words!