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I was deep in conversation the other day with a handyman, discussing what color caulk would match the wood steps leading up to a rental house I’m currently managing. It was then, at that very moment, I realized my creativity was as dark as the grout I was drawn to. A shiver went down my spine: had my inspiration run dry?   

I’ve been a reader and writer my entire life, and my professional career was that of a writer. I’m no Shakespeare, mind you, more a technical writer than creative. But even in the midst of writing healthcare articles for journals, or more recently, gardening tips and religion stories for a newspaper, I always tapped into my creative side to bring those stories to life.

As my husband prepares for retirement, we’ve acquired two properties with the intention of splitting our time between both places. But in order to “enjoy” them, we need to fix them. The idea of renovating a space that wholly reflects my design style — inside and out — has been a dream of mine. Now that it’s reality, I’m deep into worrying about faucet leaks, rampant ants and neglected garden beds. I’ve become a master of minutiae. 

Each month, I’m driving several hours to meet workers at the condo we purchased to install ceiling fans, check the AC unit, install cable lines or replace the carpeting. And at the rental house, just a few minutes from my home, I’m battling against — and clearly losing — a steady stream of ants that reappear every few weeks near the front stoop. They seem to be colluding with the wire grass that won’t budge from the garden and the wobbly iron fence that clearly prefers the neighbor’s yard.

These are first-world problems, I acknowledge. And they seem to have sucked the life out of my creative wellspring. All of which has gotten me to wondering if the trappings of our 21st century consumer society can peacefully coexist with the natural desire to imagine, inspire or simply tell a good story. Lately, the mundane tasks of life seem to be getting in the way of my ability to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. I’m hoping this writer’s block is merely temporary and that this down time is necessary to rejuvenate the creativity that has sustained my spirit for decades. 

Until then, I accept the challenge from those pesky ants...and I’m ready to write about it!

Teri Merrill

Teri Merrill has been writing professionally since 1982. She has recently been writing for her town newspaper.

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