• One Minnesota Writer

52 Ways to Shift Your Focus

Shift #8: Fresh Stuff

Here’s one aspect of the writing life: Dash off to the grocery store in a panic because it’s 7 a.m. and the coffee cupboard is unexpectedly bare. Don’t stop to consider where the beans come from other than some preference for Peet’s Coffee over Cameron’s or the other way around. Grab the French Roast, go home, grind the beans, pour the water into the coffee maker, wipe up the bit that splashed down the side, hit the “on” switch, stand there with the empty coffee cup until the brew is done.  Pour, gulp, anticipate the jolt, back to work.

Later, while pushing toward a deadline and cursing the bad prose on the screen, the rumbling stomach just won’t go away. Dinner! Fast! Maybe order take-out or hit up the deli. Stomach quiet? Okay, carry on.

It’s not always like that, of course, but this probably comes up often enough that things start to blend together into a not-so-tantalizing lost-my-creative-juice soup. Crankiness ensues. The writing turns to crap.

So, here’s your stepping-back suggestion for today: head to the nearest farmers market.

There’s nothing quite like reconnecting where that sustenance we inhale in some less-than-mindful fashion actually comes from to ground ourselves. Now that it’s summer around here, farmers markets are all over the place, with offers of fresh produce, herbs and flowers for planting, artisan cheese and bread, meat from animals raised by the people selling it. Fresh air, no big overhead fluorescent lights, people who can tell you all about what it is that you’re buying. You can slow down, think about things, avoid rushing through an express lane.

That’s exactly what I did this morning. My neighborhood farmers market opened this month and will be there every Tuesday morning until the end of the summer. It’s a little early in the season to buy a lot of produce, but I decided to plan ahead. I bought seedlings of dill, basil, cilantro, parsley, tomatoes, peppers. I ran into a colleague of my husband’s who was planning her garden instead of heading to work this morning. She looked a little more relaxed than she usually does. Farmers market effect? I think so.

There’ll be another break this afternoon. I’ll have to plant those seedlings. It’ll be the perfect antidote to a morning of reading through a slush pile and editing my own stuff. Might even sprout some new ideas while I’m at it.

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