This was my summer of quasi-leisure. Of time, of opportunity, of pleasures large and small. I had all the best plans to make my writerly best of it. On first glance, I failed miserably.
As I have often lamented, since I've had kids, my writing time has been severely limited. Yes, I write every day, and I love what I do; but I have little time to devote to my own projects and even less willpower and discipline. I am not a journal-keeper or a Morning Pages type of gal; however, I never used to need prodding to make time to write. Sometimes I wonder: Have I lost the drive? Have I run out of things to say? Or I am I just in limbo, socking away ideas until a more fruitful time in my life comes again?
Last year, I had a 70-80 hour/week day job. At the beginning of this summer, I had a blessed change in work duties and now toil a more humane 40 hours (sometimes even less). The two college classes I was teaching ended in May. The time-consuming twice-a-day trek between preschool and elementary school (in opposite directions, of course) was also on hiatus for a full two months. My husband was even home to pitch in with the dishes and laundry. [I have an awesome husband!]
I promised myself that this summer I would write like the wind. In fact, I took a picture book writing class, and I did write. I dusted off my novel and made a little bit of progress. The truth is, I could have made much more. But instead, I played. I went to the pool with the kids. Watched them skate and flip and play. Took them to baseball games, to amusement parks, to DC. Spent time with my husband. Loved every minute of this magical summer.
I will add that it helps to have that every-so-often extrinsic motivator that life sends to remind you that yes, you really are a writer. This is how I started by summer vacation:
Yes, I am one of 22 writers on the team and yes, I had to pay for my own statue, but hey -- it's cool.
Unlike me, my daughter spent a lot of time writing for pleasure this summer. I paged through her journal this morning and was struck by the common thread in each entry. "Today is going to be a great day." "Today was the best day ever." "I can't wait to ___." "I love ____!"
Takeaway lesson? You need time to BE in order to be inspired. Take time to soak in and enjoy and live. And I hope I'm not feeding myself a line so that I don't feel guilty. Actually, I refuse to feel guilty. If I never write another word again (unlikely), this summer was worth every minute.
Today my husband and I return to teaching. I have three sections this semester, at two different colleges, with two different textbooks. Back to the carpool, to chorus, piano lessons, homework, the regular old grind. But I start the school year well refreshed and with, I hope, an attitude of good cheer. Wishing a great school year to all of the teachers and students out there! --Jeanne Marie