Ah, harvest time. The time of pumpkins and colorful leaves and crisp air and getting the kids’ Halloween costumes on time and figuring out whether they need masks under their masks and deciding whether or not you’d like to make a real effort at losing the COVID 19 or would rather just polish that Family Size bag of Snickers because you’re probably doing Christmas and New Year’s on Zoom anyway. I bet it makes even Huda Kattan want to crawl under the bed with a box of Oreos and a backlog of People magazines until 2022 comes creeping around.
Isn’t it strange that harvesting is sort of supposed to be the opposite of all that? A time for reaping the rewards of patient waiting and gathering essentials for the long winter ahead? But who has time? After all, if you plant something, aren’t you supposed to be constantly tugging at the fruit or adding MiracleGro or insisting that if it isn’t ready according to schedule, heads will roll?
Here’s the thing, though: lots of things, including novels, will simply refuse to develop under these conditions. Sure, we can force them to deliver some premature, shriveled version of themselves ahead of schedule, but they’ll never really blossom. And their fruit definitely won’t be productive in turn. After all, things only grow in concert with the earth, not simply because they’re on it. And in order to do so, they also usually need to be out of our sight and out of our hands.
Am I actually saying that if you’re dead set on finishing a big project, written or otherwise, you should just take your hands off the wheel and trust that it will come to fruition in its own time? I am (at least for a little while, though you might want to stop the car first and roll down the windows). Think of it this way: you can gestate by bouncing around with your fetus and reading pregnancy books that make you want to check your urine every hour and/or avoid every gram of sugar within a ten mile radios and/or call up your long-suffering obstetrician to demand a weekly sonogram, OR, you can put your hands on your belly and think warmly about what you can’t see, and/or feed the person it rests within good food, and/or talk to it, even when it’s not answering. Because underneath all that noise and hurry and worry and demand, there’s a quality of waiting that’s graceful and observant, a self-settling that helps you get quiet enough to really listen to what’s developing and maybe actually hear what it has to say.
Art: Daphne Brissonet, Indigo Garden