Staying Creative While Waiting on the World to Change

Image for post
Image for post
Broccoli, corn, and collard greens growing in my garden on the deck. ©2020 Harold Michael Harvey

I believe the sheltering in place edict has made me a more productive, if not a more creative, writer. Maynard Eaton, a fellow journalist, remarked to me the other day that I have been very productive and innovative in the past few weeks. It dawns on me that he is right. I have cranked out an article a day for the past sixteen days.

When I started on this roll, I kept a daily diary on the pandemic, and then it hit me that the more one beats the drum about something, wanted or unwanted, the more it magnifies in its reality. I stopped the daily diary and searched for more creative ways to explain the times we live. For instance, I wrote a piece about celebrating the homegoing of a civil rights warrior — Rev. Joseph E. Lowery — in a pandemic.

Image for post
Image for post
A row of bell peppers, broccoli, and corn growing on the deck. ©2020 Harold Michael Harvey

The only reference to the pandemic was in the title. The article focused on my relationship with Lowery from my days as a 27-year- old journalist to a 45-year-old lawyer helping to protect the rights of college students facing disorderly conduct charges during a spring break festival in the mid-1990s. I shared the lessons I learned first-hand from the dean of the civil rights movement.

Writing this article helped me to ease a bit of the grief I felt over his transition. There is an inevitable pain in not saying goodbye in a communal setting to a person who untiringly advocated for the rights of all Americans to share in the American dream.

Image for post
Image for post
A row of collard greens growing on the deck. ©2020 Harold Michael Harvey

This time has also caused me to be more reflective. I wrote a story in 1977 about two elderly ladies. They were working to revitalize their community. The ladies decided one day that “We all need to get out and plant a garden.” It was my first paid piece. It found a home in Facing South Magazine. Remembering how those ladies used a garden to give new life to their community stirred the latent gardener in me.

In March, I got out and planted a garden in flowerpots on my deck. I have herbs, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, snow peas, collards, eggplant, and broccoli. In a few weeks, produce from this deck garden should come online. Then I will use my time to be more creative in the kitchen finding ways to prepare delicious meals from the plants growing right outside my back door.

Harold Michael Harvey is the author of Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. An avid public speaker, contact him at .

Written by

Harvey is Living Now Book Awards 2020 Bronze Medalist for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. Available at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store