Grand Productivity Experiment: Phase Eight… Nun Too Good

There was a time when I was seriously considering becoming a nun. Then I met the Caped Gooseberry, and it became clear to me that this was not the path my life was meant to take. (Glad I got that clear before we got engaged, unlike Jane Christmas.)

This past week, it became clear to me that I might not have made a very good nun. To be frank, after the first day or two, it was chaos. Picture me, realizing it was time for a pray and finding myself in a tree waving loppers around. (Turns out, you can pray in a tree.)

Neuilly-sur-Seine Saint-Pierre248
Precedent for short people in trees talking to God.
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What Next?

The Wound of Words (draft 2.2) has now been despatched to the lovely people who volunteered to be beta readers, and I… what am I going to do?

I’ll be carrying on with the Grand Productivity Experiment, but doing less writing work and a lot more house and garden work. Especially garden work.

You don’t catch me using a chainsaw in a tree. Or anywhere else. I am attached to my limbs and I would like it to stay that way.

There’s the redcurrant to prune (at last!), the mighty Balrog to hack back again (the shed porch disintegrated and collapsed under its weight this year), and the dozens of poles shooting out the top of the apple tree like some sort of living candelabra to slice off.

And once I’ve done all that (no doubt with the assistance of the Caped Gooseberry’s superior musculature), it’s on to the potting, the planting out and the weeding.

Inside, for those inevitable days of Much Water, there’s pruning of another sort to be done (aka decluttering), and a truly remarkable quantity of mending to work my way through.

Welfare work in a Services Hospital Art.IWMARTLD6000
Husband trapped in bed until wife mends at least one pair of trousers.
At some point, of course, whether sooner or later, it will have to be decided: what writing project do I work on next?

Sproing Cleaning

No, that is not a typo. Well, it is, but it’s an intentional one. (This time.) The first time I typed it I was aiming for Spring Cleaning, but my right hand decided that Sproing Cleaning was much more accurate, and I must say I agree with it (not least because it is presently spring nowhere on earth).


There’s a sort of a fizz in my blood at the moment, a wild and reckless fizz which suggests the committing of wild and desperate acts of pruning. (Of stuff, not plants. Mostly.)

This is hardly surprising, coming as it does on the heels of the completion of a years-long project. And it’s encouraging. According to Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, “One of the clearest signals that something healthy is afoot is the impulse to weed out, sort through, and discard old clothes, papers, and belongings.”

So here I am, poised on the brink of the Sproing Cleaning, little pebbles falling over the edge at my feet (a game here, a book there…) and wondering – how far do I go?

Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the sea of fog
This question is of course affected by many factors. How much stuff I actually have, how much of it is not ‘mine’ but ‘ours’ and therefore not mine to fling at will, how much energy I have to expend (always bearing in mind that it’s more economical of energy to do the job thoroughly once than fribble away at the edges of it for years).

[Digression: I thought I had invented the word ‘fribble’ but according to the SOD it can mean “to falter, stammer; to totter in walking… to act aimlessly or feebly; to fiddle;” or “to behave frivolously” – said to be the more modern meaning, around since the 1640s. And that’s just the verb…]

But at the heart of it, I think all these questions come down to one factor: regret. Would I regret getting rid of things? Would I regret not getting rid of more? Where, in fact, does the true sproing lie in all of this?According to Marie Kondo, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

How do I want to live my life? What does that entail getting rid of? And even if I do regret the occasional discarded item, is it still worth it for the resulting sproinginess?

I guess the reason I’m asking all these questions in a public forum is because I’m not sure I yet have the cavalier attitude necessary to plunge over the edge at which I stand, and, well, we’ve all heard the story about penguins, haven’t we?

(Penguins don’t actually do this, it turns out, but bear with me; it’s a useful metaphor.) The penguins allegedly jostle together at the edge of the ice until one is shoved right over the edge – thus providing valuable research data on the presence of predators in the waters below.

Adélie penguins in Antarctica, Antarctic Peninsula
Test subject #1 is in the water!
So, has anyone here been over the edge? (Are there sharks? Sea lions? Oceans of tasty krill?) And if no one here has yet taken the plunge, who’s up for a bit of encouraging jostling?